Did you know that noise-induced hearing loss is the only completely preventable form of hearing loss? During October, as we recognize National Protect Your Hearing Month, take a moment to assess the noise around you and take steps to protect your hearing.
Most people use headphones on a daily basis. We’re constantly plugged in to take phone calls, listen to music, or tune into a podcast while walking the dog. Headphones, while incredibly useful, can also result in hearing loss if you turn the volume up too high for too long. It’s important to manage your volume (your smartphone may even have a feature that sets a maximum listening level) and take breaks to give your ears a rest. You can use those breaks as an opportunity to recharge your device!
As the leaves begin to fall, it’s time to pick up a rake or pull out the leaf blower. Make sure ear and hearing protection are a part of your yardwork routine. Leaf blowers, depending on whether their gas or electric, can be as quiet as 50 decibels or exceed 80 decibels. At 85 decibels, damage to your hearing can occur in as little as two hours. Pick up a pair of earplugs or good hearing protection earmuffs as part of your yardwork routine.
As you enjoy the cooler weather in the great outdoors, make sure your activities don’t also cause damage to your hearing. When hunting, ear protection is essential. There are options available that amplify quiet sounds while providing protection from loud sounds. If you take a drive to admire the changing colors of the leaves, be aware that your mode of transportation could also cause damage to your hearing. For example, motorcycles can exceed 95 decibels where damage is possible after only 50 minutes of exposure. Even going on a hayride can expose you to tractor noise that can hit 85 decibels.
From football to soccer to hockey, cheering fans can pack quite a noise punch. Depending on whether the sports venue is indoors or outdoors (and the fanbase), noise exposure at sporting events can exceed 100 decibels. At this level, damage is possible in just 15 minutes. To protect yourself, understand how loud the venue can get, use hearing protection when possible, and take breaks.
Colder nights are the perfect time for a movie marathon. When watching a movie at home, try to keep the volume below 70 decibels or at a level of normal conversation. If you find that you need to turn up the television to the point of where others are annoyed or feel it is too loud, it may be time to see a hearing professional and have your hearing checked!
By understanding the potential effects of noise and taking steps to reduce your exposure, you can still enjoy all your favorite Fall activities while protecting your hearing for years to come. There are multiple free apps available on your smartphone that can give you real-time decibel levels of noise around you. If you feel that you may be experiencing hearing loss, be sure to see a professional.