Hearing loss isn't something only the elderly suffer from. In fact, at least 10% of all Canadians suffer some type of hearing loss.
Ready to be a hearing hero? Read on to learn how.
In our plugged-in always-turned-on culture, it's the cumulative long-term noise effects that cause a lot of our hearing loss problems. That includes playing your music too loud for too long.
You can suffer hearing loss from:
- A single, extremely loud blast of noise like an explosion
- Short-term exposure to loud noise like airplane engines, fireworks, machinery
- The cumulative, long-term effects of just moderate noise
- Normal aging
- Infections, injuries, disease, tumors
Sound is measured in decibels (dB), and anything louder than 85 dB can hurt your hearing. And it doesn't take much to reach or exceed that level:
- an ambulance siren or airplane taking off: 120 dB
- inside a nightclub: 120 dB
- in a movie theatre: up to 117 dB
- at a rock concert: 110-125 dB
- listening to music with headphones: 105-120 dB if the volume is cranked up to maximum
- a motorcycle: 95 dB
- a noisy restaurant or heavy traffic in the city: 85 dB
Many of us don't notice our hearing is getting worse because we often, without realizing it, make adjustments as the condition gradually worsens. So watch for these hearing loss warning signs:
- Sounds seem muffled
- You have difficulty following conversations, especially when there's background noise
- You tend to favour one ear when listening to normal conversations
- You often misunderstand what others are saying
- It's getting harder for you to hear phone conversations
- There's a ringing or buzzing in your ears
The bad news is that noise-induced hearing loss is usually permanent. The good news is that it's preventable. Here's how to protect yourself:
- Don't crank up the tunes at home or in your car (at least not every time).
- With a personal music device, limit your use to an hour a day at no more than 60% of the device's maximum volume.
- Stay away from noisy places and activities.
- Wear earplugs at sporting events and nightclubs.
- Wear protective ear gear in noisy work environments.
- Don't buy children's toys that create high sound levels.