How Noise Ages your Hearing
Do you make an effort to keep your body healthy?
Perhaps you make a point of walking for half an hour each day and consume a healthy diet. While this is an important ingredient to a healthy life, your hearing health requires the same care and attention!
Many people who take sensible precautions to keep their heart’s health and weight down, as oblivious to another danger to their health – that of noise-induced hearing loss. And the latter is no idle threat.
Noise and hearing loss
It is an astounding fact, but around 10 million Americans already have permanently damaged hearing due to noise, whilst an additional 30-50 million are regularly exposed to dangerous levels of noise.
The prospect of damaged hearing is not one to take lightly. Imagine not being able to hear the gentle lapping of the sea against the shore or your child’s first words. Hearing is a sense that we tend to take for granted, until it is deprived to us and it’s too late to change things. But don’t let this be you and instead become savvier when it comes to damaging noise.
How does noise-induced hearing loss impact your life?
Noise-induced hearing loss is linked to a gradual loss of hearing starting with higher pitched sounds progressing to lower pitches, including those of human speech. Because noise is all around us, it’s usual for both ears to be affected (except in the case of shooters who tend to favor the gun resting closer to one ear than the other.)
Why is noise-induced hearing loss so common?
One of the reasons we underestimate the potential of noise to endanger hearing health, is that the damage is often cumulative over a period of time and there’s no immediate outward sign. For example, if you broke a leg, the bone might be at an odd angle and bleeding. Damage your ear and there’s no discernable external injury.
Another issue is that we live in an exceptionally noisy world. From aircraft to traffic noise, and MP3 players to fireworks, the potential for exposure to unhealthy levels of noise is all around us. Bear in mind that damage to hearing is a product of both the loudness of the sound plus the amount of time you are exposed to it.
Thus a single explosion close by can rupture your eardrum and cause permanent damage to the middle. However this sudden catastrophic deafness is less common, than the steady sustained insult on our hearing by listening to music on headphones with the volume turned up.
Repairing your hearing
It is also sobering to realize that once damaged, the majority of noise-induced hearing loss is permanent. The delicate hairs inside the inner ear cannot regenerate, so once damaged that’s it, the damage is non-reversible.
The good news is that noise-induced hearing loss is entirely preventable. Simple actions such as turning down the volume on an MP3 or wearing earplugs when riding a motorbike can protect your hearing. If you suspect some damage is already done, then get a hearing test and take the advice of your audiologist on how best to move forward.