Roughly one in five people in La Verne has hearing loss. If you think that hearing impairment is confined to senior citizens and older folks, guess again: hearing loss can affect people of all ages – and noise is one of the biggest contributing factors!
Too Much Noise is Not a Good Thing
It is estimated that 15 percent of Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 will develop noise-induced hearing loss, or NIHL. Surprisingly, many of them won’t even realize they are suffering from an impairment. If this seems hard to fathom, we’ll explain.
Prolonged exposure to noise causes permanent damage to the sensory cells in the inner ear, resulting in irreversible hearing loss. High frequencies are the first to be affected, and it often takes time for you to notice this change as your brain adapts automatically. But hearing loss is progressive and will only worsen over time; left untreated, it will eventually lead to difficulty comprehending speech and negatively impact many aspects of your daily life. There’s a strong correlation between untreated hearing loss and a number of physical, psychological and social problems including anxiety, depression, dementia, kidney disease and diabetes.
The louder the noise, the less safe exposure time you have before hearing damage occurs. 85 decibels (dB) is considered the threshold for safe noise exposure – that’s about the sound of typical La Verne traffic. At this volume, you are allotted about eight hours of permissible noise exposure. At 100 dB – typical of a rock concert, factory machinery or a motorcycle – damage can occur after only 15 minutes.
Protecting Against Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Once the hair cells in your cochlea are damaged, they don’t grow back. Fortunately, NIHL is easy to prevent. The following tips will help preserve your hearing:
- Wear hearing protection. When engaging in activities where loud noise is common (think concerts, sporting events, hunting, operating power tools and riding motorcycles or jet skis), always wear earplugs. Custom molded work best, but even off-the-shelf foam earplugs are better than nothing.
- Keep the volume turned down. When listening to music through headphones or earbuds, keep the volume set at a reasonable level. Experts recommend setting the maximum volume level at 60 percent and taking frequent breaks from listening to give your ears a rest.
- Check the decibel levels of your household appliances. Believe it or not, even vacuum cleaners and dishwashers can cause hearing damage. And no, that is not an excuse to get out of doing chores! Most appliances list decibel ratings information either in the instruction manual or online.
For more tips on preventing NIHL and scheduling regular hearing checkups, we encourage you to contact your La Verne audiologist today.