We’re all guilty of playing our music a little too loud, but now that everyone has their own personal music library in their back pockets, it’s tempting to be plugged in with ear buds listening to loud music at all times of the day. But have you ever wondered if that might be bad for your hearing?
Who is at risk for noise-related hearing loss?
According to the World Health Organization, when middle and high income countries were analyzed, it was found that nearly 50 percent of teenagers and young adults from ages 12 to 35 were exposed to unsafe levels of sound from personal audio devices, like smartphones and MP3 players. About 40 percent of the same age group was exposed to potentially damaging levels of noise at places like concert venues.
Is noise-related hearing loss reversible?
When we hear a noise, sound waves enter the ear and move through the ear canal to the eardrum. The sound waves cause the eardrum to vibrate, and these vibrations are sent to three tiny bones in the middle ear – the malleus, incus and stapes.
The middle ear transmits the sound wave vibrations into a fluid signal, which is picked up in the inner ear. In the inner ear, the waves travel around hair cells, and an electrical signal is created, which is then sent to the brain by the auditory nerve. The brain then decodes the message so that we recognize and understand what we’ve just heard.
When we experience noise-related hearing loss, it’s usually because the hair cells in our inner ear that create the electrical signal that helps the brain to decode what your ear is hearing have been damaged, notes the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. The damage to these cells is permanent because they can’t grow back.
Noise-related hearing loss affects a lot of people, and can be particularly bad in children and young adults: if this hearing loss occurs in young children, it can cause serious deficits and developmental delays in speech and language. Unfortunately, noise-related hearing loss is irreversible.
What are the symptoms?
Signs of noise-related hearing loss that is related to gradual exposure to too-high volumes on personal listening devices are unfortunately few. But, if you think you might be at-risk, you can take a hearing test to see if you have any loss. If you experience any prolonged buzzing, roaring, hissing or ringing in your ears, talk to your doctor. But for now, it’s time to get serious about prevention.
How can I prevent noise-related hearing loss?
Doctors suggest that if you are listening to your music with ear buds and unable to hear anything else going on around you, the volume is too high. If you spend more than about an hour and 15 minutes plugged in and listening to music at the highest volume level, it is comparable to what you might experience at a rock concert and can cause hearing loss.
Limiting your exposure to loud music and sounds might be all you need to do to make sure that you’ll never need a hearing aid later in life. Here are some steps you can take offered by England’s National Health Service that can help prevent noise-related hearing loss.
- Wear earplugs when you’re at a concert venue or arena for an extended period of time; the longer you’re exposed to loud noises, the greater chance you have of damaging your hearing. If you’re not up for wearing earplugs, taking regular breaks for 10 minutes or so in a quiet place to give your ears some time to recover.
- Keep music on your smartphone or other MP3 player at a reasonable volume. If the person sitting next to you can hear your music, it’s too loud. And, limit your exposure to 60 minutes per day and at about 60 percent of the full volume, or less.
- Use headphones instead of earbuds if going with an off-the-shelf solution. Cup-style headphones often offer a greater degree of background noise cancellation, meaning you can play your music at a lower volume and still hear it clearly. Plus, these headphones can also help block excessive background noise – a good choice for use at loud concerts, busy construction sites or other high volume locations.
If you love listening to music and can’t imagine going about your day without being plugged in, then you need to make sure you have the right kind of earphones. Electronic Shooters Protection offers custom recreational earphones that are a good choice for anyone who wants to prevent noise-related hearing loss.
These earphones are sturdy, built to last, and fully noise-canceling, so you won’t have to worry about background noises distracting you from your music. These earphones are also custom fitted to your specific ear. Your ears will be measured with a set of impressions, and then we will build the earphones to your exact measurements, so that no unwanted noise can slip in.
Even if you’re not battling with background noise, you should be able to leave your volume on a relatively low level, so you will be taking a step in the right direction towards preventing noise-related hearing loss.
But be careful: even prolonged exposure at low volumes can be harmful to your ears. Remember to take regular breaks to rest your ears and give them a chance to reset. Remember: noise-related hearing loss is completely preventable if you take the proper steps towards protecting yourself!
To learn more about our custom recreational earphones or any of our other hearing protection solutions, call us today at 303-659-8844.