There are two main factors that contribute to hearing loss and these are exposure to noise and ageing. You can’t do much about the second one unfortunately but you can certainly take steps to make sure that your hearing is not damaged by excessive sound levels.
Human hearing is at its best in your early years and unfortunately will only decline with age. There is an element of luck combined with hereditary factors as to how quickly it may deteriorate, but it is safe to say that no one will hear as well as they once did in the latter years of their life.
Many people will have already been exposed to excessive noise levels at work or in their social lives. The good news is that even where this has happened, you can avoid noise levels that may damage your hearing further. The bad news is that noise damage to your hearing is permanent and will only get worse over time. Very few people lose large amounts of their hearing in one go and symptoms often show themselves as a lack in clarity when listening to others or the TV.
The first question to answer is how much noise is too much? Unless you carry a sound level meter around with you, a rule of thumb is that if you have to raise your voice in conversation with someone else at a distance of one meter, then you are probably in an excessively noisy situation. Your choices thereafter of course are:
- Put up with and risk damaging your hearing
- Move to another area
- Stop or limit the noise
- Wear hearing protection
If the first three are difficult, then you really should consider the last one. Many BSHAA members can advise upon and fit you with hearing protection. You may even ask them to provide you with an up to date hearing assessment to see whether your hearing is affected now and provide a bench mark for the future.
Although there is less heavy industry than there used to be, the modern world has come up with many other ways to damage your hearing through excessive noise levels;
- Music streaming through headphones – unlike the old days when tapes or CDs came to an end, listening to music through popular apps can go on endlessly. Not only that, we are encouraged to turn up the noise to compete with traffic and travel.
- Live music – festivals and gigs are more popular than they ever have been and if you’ve ever left one of these with your ears literally ringing, then you’ve overdone it.
- Gardening and DIY – modern power tools will routinely exceed damaging levels so that even those who do these in leisure time should consider protecting their hearing.
- Traffic & city life – ever given any thought to how noisy your High Street is? Cars, buses & trains are all capable of delivering these sound levels never mind the bars and restaurants that so many of us choose to frequent.
If you are concerned about your hearing or would like advice on how to protect it, why not consult a BSHAA member? You can find your nearest Audiologist here.