SUSAN L FENRICH, BC-HIS

How Can I Protect my Hearing?

Noise induced hearing loss is one kind of hearing loss that can be prevented. Excessive noise is the number one cause of hearing loss. Noise can damage some of the hearing mechanisms in our inner ear. Loud sounds, such as a gunshot, an explosion, or music from super powerful speakers, travel through the air and into our ear canal causing damage. This results in hearing loss. It is not just the intense, ear-piercing sounds, which damage our hearing. Repeated exposure to loud sounds will do it too. When noise exceeds a certain level it begins to destroy the nerve endings in the inner ear. If this happens repeatedly, it results in permanent hearing loss.

You may wonder at what level noise becomes dangerous. We all have different sensitivity levels. Generally speaking, the following situations can be dangerous for your hearing: if you have to shout over background noise to make yourself heard, if the noise hurts you, if the noise causes your ears to ring, or if you find it difficult to hear for several hours after the noise.

It is the intensity of the sound and the duration of the noise that causes the damage. Many experts believe, that continued exposure to more than 85 decibels, will eventually harm your hearing. The longer you are exposed to a loud noise and the closer you are to the source, the higher the risk is for damaging your hearing. Some damaging sounds are: power tools, chain saws, gunshots, loud rock concerts, factory noise, jet engines, video arcades, firecrackers, movie theatres, sporting events, motorboats, motorcycles, snowmobiles, lawn mowers, “boom cars”, and even screaming babies.

This is why so many people are offered hearing protection at their noisy jobs. One in four workers exposed to high level noise will develop a hearing loss. Some professions at risk for hearing loss include: firefighters, police officers, factory workers, farmers, construction workers, military personnel, heavy industry workers, and musicians. If you are no longer working in noise, and have a hearing loss from noise exposure at work, you may be eligible for worker’s compensation for your hearing loss.

Recent studies have shown an alarming increase in noise induced hearing loss among teenagers. Evidence suggests, that loud music which is blasted into their ears through head phones, may be the primary culprit. In extreme cases loud noise can cause tinnitus (ringing in the ears), which is due to damage of the hearing nerve, which can often become permanent.

The best way to prevent noise damage is to avoid such situations. If you can’t, then you should wear hearing protection when participating in any noisy activities. For you hunters —it may only take one gun shot to cause permanent hearing loss. Some hearing loss can be prevented by using ear plugs or earmuffs when engaging in excessively noisy activities. If you have pain or ringing in your ears after noise exposure this is a warning sign that the sound was too loud.

Hearing protection is important. If you take steps to protect your hearing now, you may not need to wear hearing aids in the future. Custom hearing plugs are available for factory workers, musicians, pilots, hunters and other noisy environments.

At Welsch Hearing Aid Company we offer a variety of products designed to help you protect your hearing, while still being able to enjoy your work and other activities. Call 920-452-0213, toll free 800-924- 2101, or visit our website www.sheboyganhearing.com to schedule your FREE hearing test and consultation today!

Send your questions about this article or about hearing loss to answers@sheboyganhearing.com


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