Protect Your Ears: A Prevention Guide to Hearing Loss
Have you ever been to a concert and felt your ears ringing for hours afterwards? Or perhaps you heard a sound so loud that it actually made your ears hurt. Everyday, people expose themselves to situations that can cause damage to their hearing, either temporarily or permanently. In some cases, certain noises, such as those caused by airplanes, can cause hearing loss first on a temporary basis and then gradually on a permanent one too.
Hearing loss varies in its severity. In milder cases, people might not be able to hear up to a point. Others may simply have lost their hearing entirely. One way to tell if your hearing might been affected by external noise is if you have to talk louder than normal so that others can hear you. In this type of scenario, it is quite possible that the delicate parts of the inner ear can be hurt. Remaining in this loud, noisy environment can cause temporary hearing loss. Following this, people most likely experience some difficulty in normal hearing for several hours.
Another reason why people may feel their ears ringing is because of a condition known as tinnitus. Unlike temporary hearing loss, tinnitus causes a constant ringing in the person’s ears. Sometimes it can also be perceived as a high-pitched whining sound, buzzing, or even clicking. In severe cases, this ringing can be so loud, that it affects the ability to hear real sounds properly. Tinnitus can also create a sensation of the ears being plugged. Occasionally, the tinnitus can subside. However, repeatedly exposing yourself to very loud noises for long periods of time can exacerbate the situation.
Our ears weren’t meant to handle incredibly loud noises for long periods. When we place ourselves in these situations, our hearing is at risk and it can develop into permanent hearing loss. It is entirely voluntary and avoidable for some people, such as those who frequently go to loud concerts. Another common example is people who use earbuds or headphones with their mp3 players, but then blast the volume. For others, like airport runway workers or construction crews, dealing with loud noises is part of their jobs.
Losing your hearing is definitely no joke. It makes daily life more difficult, and having to deal with doctors, insurance, hearing aids and so on are not easy things to bear. Even if you do have to listen to a lot of loud noise, there are some very easy ways to protect your hearing. Musicians and concertgoers can use earplugs. These are usually conical foam pieces that can be gently molded into your ears. They are disposable and meant to be used just once, so they are usually available in multiple packs. Foam earplugs can commonly be found at music stores, at the pharmacy, or at some home hardware stores as well. To listen to music on a portable music player, simply make sure that the volume isn’t cranked. It does help to buy noise-cancelling headphones. These work by cutting out external noises, so that you can clearly hear the noise from the headphones. In this way, you won’t be forced to keep turning up the volume to hear over external sounds. Even so, take a break every now and then when you listen to music through headphones or earbuds. Piping music directly into your ears for a very long time, even at a safe volume, can still affect your hearing over time. Finally, people who have to work with loud noises can buy ear protectors that look much like a pair of large headphones. Ear protectors cut out a good deal of the excess noise, so that you can work safely without losing your hearing.
If you tend to be exposed to long periods of long noise fairly often either at work or play, it is a good idea to have your hearing checked regularly. Some websites feature online tests so that people can perform a self-test of their hearing. However, this should never be substituted for an actual professional diagnosis. Make it a point to have your hearing checked on a yearly basis by your doctor. This way, if a problem does come up, it can be detected and managed as soon as possible, before it has time to worsen.