No matter your age, you have most likely been exposed to loud music during several points in your lifetime. In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), “more than one billion teens and young adults are at risk for losing their hearing.” While many people enjoy music at concert venues, personal listening through headphones, or do it for a profession, it is important to note that once you lose your hearing you cannot get it back.
Many factors can attribute to this. These can include but are not limited to: how loud the music is, how close you are to the speakers, if you are listening to the music with headphones on, the amount of concerts you attend per year, or your family history of hearing loss.
The inner part of your ear contains tiny hair cells with nerve endings. These hair cells are responsible for picking up sound vibrations and carrying these signals to the brain where they are recognized as a sound. These hair cells can become damaged overtime due to exposure to loud noises. Just like any body part, too much exposure to something can damage it. There are several ways to practice safe listening habits.
- Wear foam ear plugs to help reduce the noise or get custom fit musician plugs which allow you to hear the music at the same quality, but in a safer range.
- Stand 10+ feet away from the speakers or sound system.
- Move around and seek a quieter spot.
- Decrease the amount of time you wear headphones for, take listening breaks.
- Decrease the volume. The level of damage you can cause to your ears is correlated with the length and the volume of the sound.
- Download a smartphone app to help monitor safe listening levels.
So when should I seek help if I believe I am suffering from hearing loss? While there are several unique symptoms, here are some key ones:
- Asking others to repeat themselves.
- Turning up the TV or radio to volumes that others would find too loud.
- If it sounds like people are slurring or mumbling their words.
- Have trouble hearing on the telephone or in a restaurant or public setting.
- You have ringing in your ears.
- Missing important information in professional settings, such as meetings.
- Avoiding social settings or becoming anxious or depressed.
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Hearing loss can impact your life in many ways. If you or a loved one believe they are affected by noise induced hearing loss, a hearing aid is a life changing device that can improve your quality of life and prevent any additional damage from happening.