Healthy Habits to Protect Your Hearing

Dr. Li-Korotky
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When you think of hearing protection, your mind might go immediately to earplugs. Indeed, even wearing disposable foam earplugs can work wonders to help you protect your hearing in the future, but the possibilities for hearing protection do not stop there. With ample research into the behaviors you can employ to secure better hearing later in life, we know that there are other healthy habits you can cultivate to protect your hearing from damage. Let’s begin with protective devices, such as earplugs and proceed to consider the other ways you can set yourself up for future hearing success!

Protection Devices

Although disposable foam earplugs can be the perfect solution for some situations, ranging from work to play and back home to the tasks of everyday life, there is a wide range of options when it comes to earplugs. Each set of earplugs you find should indicate the level of noise attenuation in terms of decibels.

The ideal target level of sound is about 85 decibels, a range at which we can hear and understand others and also protect against damage. The way to find the right set of hearing aids for your needs is to measure the decibel level of sound in the place where protection is needed. A simple smartphone app can measure the decibels, so be sure to download one of these apps before selecting your earplugs.

Whether in the workplace, riding a boat or motorcycle, or simply mowing the lawn, knowing the decibel reading of noise production is the first step. Be sure to take measurements in several locations to get the most accurate reading. Once you have this measurement, coordinate with the “attenuation level” on the earplug package. If your activity or environment is registering 95 decibels of noise, you will want at least 10 decibels of hearing protection.

Beyond disposable earplugs, other more advanced options are available, including customized earmolds and noise-cancelling earmuffs. The benefit of custom earmold protection is that it can limit the damaging sounds while allowing you to hear in the range of speech, enabling better communication.

Limit Sound Exposure

The other important component of hearing protection is to limit your exposure to noise whenever necessary. Noisy activities such as mowing the lawn, shooting guns, setting off fireworks, using a power saw, or attending a loud concert can all lead to hearing damage unless you use protection.

Limiting your exposure does not always mean avoiding these activities. The duration of noise exposure is an important facet the risk of hearing loss. For instance, if you have a very large lawn, you might want to break up that activity into multiple sessions across days in order to give your ears time away from the noisy mower. In the workplace, tasks should be divided so that you are only performing a loud job within a narrow window of time.

One of the hidden threats for hearing loss is the extended use of headphones and earbuds. The volumes amplified directly into the ear canal can be damagingly loud, particularly when they are used in conjunction with environmental noise. If you are using your headphones in a car, train, airplane, or other loud location, keep an eye on the volume of your device.

As a rule of thumb, you should keep that setting at 70% of the maximum volume or below when you are using it for an extended time, such as to watch a movie or listen to an audiobook.

Seek Treatment

One of the ways to protect your future hearing ability occurs when you have already started to lose your hearing. Seeking treatment for hearing loss can help prevent further damage. In consultation with our team, you can learn about other ways to protect your hearing, such as health habits for cleaning your ears, smoking cessation, and protective practices on the go.

When you get a hearing test and seek the appropriate assistance with hearing loss, you will be on the path to better hearing in the future. Don’t delay getting the test as the first step on the road toward better hearing. The test is usually quick and easy, so you have no reason to wait to find out what assistance you might need. Your future self will thank you!