Many of us may experience some degree of hearing loss naturally over time; just like our eyesight this also happens to our hearing. This is not something that can be avoided and it is important to see a hearing professional to get some help.
However, experiencing hearing loss and/or tinnitus due to not protecting your hearing from loud noises is something that can been prevented. Our ears are highly sensitive and it is important to protect them from any long-term damage due to high levels of noise. Hearing protection is vital, as hearing loss from exposure to loud noises is permanent and cannot be undone. A noise-induced hearing loss is typically gradual, therefore by the time you notice it, it is often too late to prevent the damage that has been done. Many people may have already been exposed to excessive loud noise through social events or through work but wearing hearing protection for any further hearing deterioration is still important. We are surrounded by different levels of noise every day; the ticking of a clock, the washing machine running, walking past a construction site – the list goes on.
According to BSHAA (British Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists), if you have to raise your voice in conversation with someone else at a distance of one metre, then you are probably in an excessively noisy situation. Suggestions for this are:
• Move to another area if possible
• Stop or limit the noise
• Wear hearing protection
Examples of some of these noise environments in the modern day are:
Music through headphones
In today’s age many of us have our headphones plugged in continuously. But for how long? What level is the volume at? Often, we could be turning the volume up to compete with other environmental sounds such as traffic noise or being on a noisy train/tube
These can often exceed safety levels so it is important for protection in this environment (e.g. DIY tools)
Gigs and festivals
These environments can become quite loud and usually last for long periods of time. Have you ever left an environment like this with your ears ringing? This could be a sign that you have been experiencing excessive noise
Generally with health and safety, your employer should have this covered but its important you follow through and actually wear the equipment you have been provided with
There are various products on the market that can mildly attenuate these sounds (e.g. off the shelf products). However, there are custom made products that are specific to certain noise environments and some contain filters that allow certain frequencies through. These products work by reducing the sound to safe levels, while the communication products allow you to stay in touch with crystal clear sound.
It is important to have regular hearing check ups to assess if your hearing has been affected and also to keep an eye on any changes that might occur over time. You should always speak to your audiologist about advice on hearing protection.