With 2015 now behind us, it’s a good time to decide what our goals for 2016 will be. And while many people are resolving to lose weight, save money, and stay in touch with family and friends, there is one important resolution many of us overlook—preserving our hearing.
Naturally, you’re probably wondering why you should make such a commitment. Truth be told, there are plenty of reasons to care about how your current habits and environment affects your hearing. As we grow older, our hearing naturally declines. As a result, many people not only find themselves unable to enjoy daily activities, but they tend to feel out of place during the holidays when they aren’t able to hear or engage in conversations with family. So rather than succumb to failing hearing, do what you can now in order to avoid the stress and isolation that often accompanies hearing loss later in life.
Ways to Preserve Your Hearing
Unlike making trips to the gym, preserving your hearing doesn’t require you to get up and leave the house in the freezing cold. All it takes is a bit of mindfulness and commitment to ensure your hearing doesn’t deteriorate prematurely.
One way to nurture your hearing is to turn down the music…or the television, the radio, and anything else you tend to listen to at high volumes. As much as you may enjoy hearing your favorite songs on full blast, anything above 85 decibels exceeds OSHA suggestions. In fact, 85 decibels is what OSHA regulations mark as the onset of hearing loss within 8 hours. By the time you’ve reached 140 decibels, you begin experiencing immediate hearing loss. So before you turn your music up way too high, ask yourself “Is this song really worth damaging my hearing over?”
Be prepared! Avoiding loud sounds isn’t always feasible such as during a concert or fireworks. However, earplugs are an affordable and compact way to always have protection handy. You can keep them in your purse, glove compartment or jacket pocket. In fact, since they’re so affordable it’s easy to keep a pair handy in a few spots so you’re never without the option for hearing protection. And if you’re concerned about missing out on the quality of a music performance, don’t fret. There are higher quality earplugs aimed at musicians and audiophiles that protect your hearing while maintaining a high level of audio fidelity. And remember, if you have to shout to be heard, it’s probably too loud and you should be wearing protection.
Though these adjustments may seem small, when you consider the approximate 11.7 million people who suffer from hearing loss as a result of noise exposure, they do play a large role in our long-term health. Studies are showing a connection between onset of dementia and hearing loss along with other negative impacts to quality of life. Also, if you have small children, you most definitely want to do what you can to ensure they don’t suffer from childhood hearing loss. Because their ears are vulnerable and sensitive, small things like keeping the volume at a reasonable level is important. After all, no one – children included- are exempt from early hearing loss.
Finally, while prevention is best, if you or a loved one are suffering from hearing loss, there has never been a better time to get a free hearing exam and explore options for improving your hearing. Here is a handy guide if you’re unsure of the signs and symptoms of hearing loss.