Seven Ways to Protect Hearing

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October is National Protect Your Hearing Month. The purpose is to raise awareness about noise induced hearing loss.

Hearing loss caused by high noise levels is permanent. And yet, four out of five Americans don’t protect their ears at sporting or entertainment venues. And half of us listen to music turned up too loud.

Check out these seven ways to protect hearing and lessen the risk of damage.

Seven Ways to Protect Hearing title meme

How Loud is Too Loud?

Over time, exposure to loud noises, whether at work or listening to music or attending concerts, causes hearing loss.

How loud is too loud?

If you can’t talk to someone six feet away, without shouting, it’s too noisy. Sound is measured in decibels. Normal conversation registers at 60 decibels, a whisper at 30. Noise over 80 decibels (dB), over prolonged time, causes damage. When noise goes over 120 dB it can cause immediate harm.

The inner ear contains 16,000 hair cells that allow the brain to detect sound. When they become damaged, they can’t grow back, and hearing diminishes.

More than 40 million adults, aged 20 to 69, suffer from noise induced hearing loss. That makes loss of hearing the third most common health condition.

Seven Ways to Protect Hearing ear
Seven Ways to Protect Hearing – learn how to prevent hearing loss.

Seven Ways to Protect Hearing

Learn how to prevent hearing loss, due to noise and other causes. It’s especially important that we teach our youth and young adults how to protect their ears and hearing.

Use Hearing Protection

Approximately 15% of adults experience noise induced hearing loss due to excessively loud work or entertainment environments.

In the workplace, machinery, airplanes, lawnmowers, chainsaws or any other loud noise that causes you to shout over it to be heard, is causing damage.

Clubs and concerts play music at dangerously loud levels, around the 120 dB level .

Earplugs provide an easy way to protect ears and hearing in these situations. You can even have them custom fitted by a hearing specialist. Musicians’ earplugs filter out excessive noise while still allowing conversation and music to enter.

According to the World Health Organization, 1.1 billion teens and young adults are at risk for noise induced hearing loss due to unsafe use of audio equipment.

When listening to music use headphones rather than earbuds. While convenient to use and easy to tote, earbuds rest too close to the eardrums and can cause damage. They increase a sound’s volume by six to nine decibels.

Use the 60/60 rule when listening to music via headphones. Listen to music through headphones at 60% of the volume, for no more than 60 minutes a day.

And when riding in an enclosed vehicle, or listening to music anywhere without headphones, simply turn the volume down.

Seven Ways to Protect Hearing headphones
Seven Ways to Protect Hearing – use headphones rather than earbuds

Allow Ears to Recover

After prolonged exposure to loud sounds, give the ears a break. During a concert or at work where loud noises occur, step away into a quieter place for five to ten minutes as often as possible. The ears need the rest.

Remove headphones after an hour of listening to music, to give the ears a break as well.

Researchers discovered it takes 16 hours of quiet for the ears to recover after a loud concert or a night out in a noisy location.

Seven Ways to Protect Hearing take a break
Seven Ways to Protect Hearing – give ears a break

Keep Ears Dry

Excess moisture in the ear canals creates bacterial growth. This causes swimmer’s ear or ear infections, which can impact hearing.

Gently towel dry around ears after showering, bathing or swimming, blotting away moisture. If water enters the ear canal, tip head to the side and tug on earlobe to help remove fluid.

Swimmer’s earplugs prevent water from entering the ears and keep ear canals dry.

Seven Ways to Protect Hearing dry
Seven Ways to Protect Hearing – keep ear canals dry

Don’t Use Cotton Tipped Swabs

There’s an old saying that goes, “Don’t put anything bigger than your elbow in your ear”. It’s very common to use cotton tipped swabs to clean the ears and remove wax. However, experts advise against the practice.

It’s normal and even desirable to have a bit of wax in the ears. The ears are naturally self cleaning and the wax prevents dust and particles from entering the ear canal. The wax eventually moves out of the ear on its own.

Plus inserting anything into the ear may damage the ear drum and harm hearing.

For excess wax, gently clean around the ear canal with a damp washcloth. Or try over the counter ear wax removal solutions that softens the wax so that it flows out. Doctors can remove excessive wax during an office appointment as well.

Seven Ways to Protect Hearing swabs
Don’t use cotton tipped swabs in the ears.

Be Careful with Certain Medications

Some over the counter medications can contribute to hearing loss. Non steroidal anti-inflammatories, such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen can impact hearing in a negative way. Don’t over medicate with these drugs. And discuss all medications, including over the counter ones, with your doctor. He or she can advise about possible side effects.

 

Seven Ways to Protect Hearing limit meds
Seven Ways to Protect Hearing – limit certain meds

Exercise

Moving the body is good for the ears. Cardio exercise, such as running, jogging, walking or cycling, pumps blood to all parts of the body, including the ears. That oxygen rich blood helps the ear’s internal parts to work well and stay healthy.

If cycling, protect the head with a helmet. A head injury can affect hearing. And if you listen to music while walking, running or jogging, keep volume low so it doesn’t distract you or cover the sounds of approaching traffic.

Seven Ways to Protect Hearing exercise
Exercise such as walking is one of seven ways to protect hearing.

Manage Stress

Both stress and anxiety can cause temporary and permanent tinnitus or ringing in the ears. Chronic stress puts the body in fight or flight mode, which causes adrenaline levels to elevate and stay that way.

Stress strains the nerves, restricts blood flow and affects many systems in the body. And that stress is thought to affect the inner ear, contributing to tinnitus.

Try relaxation techniques to lower and manage stress. Spend time in nature, practice yoga or meditation, do deep breathing exercises. And eat a healthy diet, rich in fruits and vegetables.

Seven Ways to Protect Hearing destress
Seven Ways to Protect Hearing – manage stress

How Are You Protecting Your Hearing?

I’ve protected my hearing throughout my life. However, I’ve also had tinnitus since childhood. I often wonder if my fears as a child created stress that contributed to the ringing in my ears. It’s also possible I willed my ears to ring, to cover any bump in the night sounds.

Changing my diet to a plant based one lessened the ringing tremendously although I still hear it when all other noise dies away.

I hope these seven practices help prevent loss or further hearing loss for others. Diminished hearing can contribute to depression, anxiety, isolation and even dementia. It’s worth turning the music volume down a bit or standing at the back of a venue away from the speakers, to protect hearing.

How is your hearing?

Wearing headphones
Wearing headphones during my first pod cast.

Hearing Helps from Amazon:

 


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I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.

 

 

 

 

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