With the new year upon us, many of us plan on making changes. Resolutions often include quitting smoking, eating healthier foods, losing weight, and working out more often. How about a new years resolution to preserve our hearing? Here are a few ideas to ring in a new year while protecting our hearing in the process.
Know the Risks
To best care for your hearing health, it is vital to know when your hearing is at risk. The unit for measuring sound is called a decibel (dB). Noise above 85 decibels can potentially damage your hearing. To give you an idea of the risks, here are a few sounds and their decibel levels:
- Whisper – 30 dB
- Normal conversation – 60 dB
- City traffic – 85 dB
- Motorcycle – 100 dB
- Jackhammer at 50 feet – 95 dB
- Music player at maximum volume – 100 dB
- Loud rock concert – 115 dB
Understand the Signs of Hearing Loss
Put simply, a hearing loss occurs when the nerve cells of the inner ear are damaged. Fortunately, there are signs of hearing damage you can look for after exposure to loud noises. Indications include the following:
- Ringing in the ears commonly known as tinnitus
- Your ears have a feeling of fullness
- Asking people to repeat themselves often or misinterpreting what they are saying
- Difficulty comprehending speech
- Turning the television or radio volumes up
Protect Your Ears
The factors involved in hearing damage are the volume or intensity of the sound, the amount of time your ears are subjected to the sound, and the distance between your ears and the sound source. For this new year be aware of how you can protect your hearing:
- Limit the volume with earplugs or turn the volume down
- Limit the time of noise exposure
- Increase the distance between your ears and the sound source
- Remember the 60/60 rule by listening for no more than 60 minutes at 60 percent of maximum volume
Schedule a Hearing Test
Make 2018 the year you schedule a hearing test. If you get a test and your hearing is normal, you will have a baseline for future hearing tests. If the test does show a hearing loss, your hearing healthcare professional can work with you to select the best plan for your hearing care.
Additional Ways to Protect Your Hearing Health
As you begin to set goals for the coming year, be sure to include taking better care of your hearing health. Other methods to protect your hearing include the following:
- Overall health: Take care of your overall health as it directly affects your hearing health.
- Heart health: A healthy cardiovascular system positively affects your hearing. Remember that inadequate blood flow to the vessels in your ears can contribute to a hearing loss.
- Hypertension: A link exists between high blood pressure and untreated hearing loss.
- Smoking: Smokers have a 70 percent higher risk of having a hearing loss than non-smokers.
- Diabetes: Hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes than those without diabetes.
Healthy Hearing in 2018
A new year is upon us, so make taking steps to improve your health a priority. Do not neglect your ears in the coming year either: know what sounds are too loud, take steps to protect your hearing, and schedule a hearing test.