By Carien de Jager

We live in a world where we are constantly surrounded by sound and movement.  This can be very stimulating and exciting, but there are hidden dangers in the sounds that surround us.

Noise induced hearing loss is insidious in nature and often takes a long time to show itself.  Short impulse sounds or prolonged exposure to loud sound can cause damage to the inner ear that can never be repaired.  Even if you can’t tell that you are damaging your hearing, you could have trouble hearing in the future, such as not being able to understand other people when they talk, especially on the phone or in a noisy room. Regardless of how it might affect you, one thing is certain: noise-induced hearing loss is something you can prevent.

During our initial interview before the hearing test is even done, questions about your listening habits and activities will give your audiologist an idea if you are at risk for noise induced hearing loss. If you completed military service, were exposed to industrial noise at work, target shooting and hunting, listening to MP3 players at high volume through earbuds or headphones, playing in a band, and attending loud concerts all contribute to noise induced hearing loss.

Harmful noises at home may come from sources including lawnmowers, leaf blowers, and woodworking tools.  Riding motorcycles can also damage your hearing, not from the engine of the motorcycle, but from the wind noise in the helmet you are wearing.

The golden rule for using headphones or earbuds to listen to music or gaming is always 60% of the volume of the device for 60 minutes.  It is then advisable to take a break to give your hearing a chance to rest.  Hearing protection should be worn when exposed to loud noise and this is available at your pharmacy, hardware shop or custom-made plugs can be obtained from your audiologist.

Some patients say that they already have hearing loss and protection will make no difference.  In all cases this is a misconception.  Protect what you have left since further exposure will cause further damage.

We only have one set of ears and any hearing loss will impact on your relationships and work success.  There is a direct link between quality of life and hearing loss and there are so many other causes and contributing factors to hearing loss that it is a must to protect your ears against harmful noise. Noise induced hearing loss is preventable.

Rest your ears