Men suffer from hearing loss at a much higher rate than women. Maybe that’s because more men spend their lives playing with power tools, playing music at full volume, going to car races and shooting big, loud guns.
The result is that men suffer hearing loss by nearly twice what women do from ages 20-69. Today, one in every five teenagers suffers from hearing loss equivalent to previous generation adults in their 50s and 60s. That’s a frightening statistic that foretells the largest generation of hearing impaired adults in the history of the world.
Hearing loss is a serious phenomenon that deserves more attention and public awareness. Prevention is the key, but what steps does one take to prevent hearing loss?
Understanding Hearing Loss
The ear has about 15,000 hair cells. Sound waves hit these protective hairs and are converted into electrical currents that the auditory system carries to our brain. Like every design in our body, it’s a brilliant system that works well when it’s working.
The problem occurs when these hair cells become damaged, as happens with repeated exposure to loud noises.
Once damaged, the converted electrical currents keeps getting sent to auditory nerve cells. These false electrical currents become what is more commonly known as tinnitus.
Tinnitus often leads to a constant ringing in the ears that won’t go away. Some popular rockers that permanently suffer from tinnitus include Phil Collins, Pete Townsend, Neil Young, Sting and Bono. Tinnitus affects up to 50 million Americans.
How Loud is Too Loud?
We measure sound in decibels, which measures the power of sound (not the amount). A safe level of sound is considered to be below 85 decibels. Repeated exposure to levels above this is a risk to permanent hearing damage.
Let’s look at some popular sounds and their correlated dB (decibel) ratings:
In our chart, you’ll notice that normal conversation has a decibel rating of about 60 dB. It’s not too far beyond this level when the risk of hearing loss begins.
Let this be your gauge. If your daily activity continually involves a level of noise above 85, it’s not a matter of if you’ll experience hearing loss but when you’ll experience hearing loss.
How to Stop Hearing Loss
Be Aware. By maintaining an ongoing focus on noise levels, you will learn to create sound strategies (yes that was intentional) for keeping your hearing in check and avoiding hearing loss.
Loud noises are going to happen. There’s police sirens that rush by, power tools that we use on occasion, church organs, mowing the lawn and even loud thunder.. just to name a few instances we all get caught up in.
Keep exposure to a minimum when you are in the midst of loud noises.
Most importantly, take precautions early.. long before you ever have hearing issues. Hearing loss is one of the biggest frustrations the elderly face. Engage in prevention techniques today to avoid becoming a part of this statistic tomorrow.
Here’s a list of precautions you can take to ensure you’ll be hearing well all the way into your the latter part of your grey-haired days.
- Use Foam Earplugs – They’re insanely cheap and they do a thorough job of filling the ear canal and providing a good seal against noise. Wear them to the club and anytime you’re using power tools.
- Invest in Reusable Plugs – Reusables cost a bit more but they can be used many times over and are generally more form fitting and comfortable than foam earplugs.
- Consider Filter Earplugs – These are great if you’re regular hobbies include shooting guns or motorcycling.
- Buy Earmuffs – Great for cold weather and blocking loud noises. You can even buy earmuffs with for your iphone, allowing you to block out industrial noises while enjoying some low-volume music.
- Cover Your Ears! – It may seem manly to sit idly while the firetruck races by your car but real men are more interested in protecting their hearing, so cover up and set a great example for the kids.
If you’re experiencing any symptoms of tinnitus, there are treatment options to alleviate the pain and help with the discomfort but there is currently no cure for tinnitus.
There is no second chance so be proactive today and you’ll be thankful tomorrow.