Are you one of the 1.1 billion at risk of hearing loss?
What is noise-induced hearing loss?
You might not realise it, but we are all constantly surrounded by background noise. Whether it’s passing traffic, being sat on the train, the sounds of the supermarket during the weekly shop—it’s difficult to get away from the buzz.
According to the World Health Organisation, there are approximately 1.1 billion younger people who are at risk of developing a hearing loss due to the use of personal audio devices. These are popular and can often be listened to at unsafe volumes.
Noise-induced hearing loss describes a hearing loss that is caused by either long-term exposure to noise or being subject to excessively loud sounds.
Being exposed to these noises can affect the hair cells which are inside the ear. When the cells are healthy, they help pass sounds to the brain to be processed. When they are damaged, they no longer work as they should and it becomes difficult for sound to be passed through the ear and as a result, a loss of hearing occurs.
The sound waves created as a result of the noise impacts on the hair cells, which can cause temporary or permanent damage. The damage caused can vary depending on the types and volume of the sound, and the individual ear.
There are a number of symptoms associated with a loss of hearing:
- Finding it difficult to hear the TV or feeling that you need it at a higher volume than you used to
- Struggling to hear someone when there is additional background noise
- Struggling to find out which direction a sound is coming from without looking around
- Feeling more fatigued than usual when you have to listen to lots of sounds in a day
If any of these symptoms apply to you, you may be suffering from some form of hearing loss.
How to protect your hearing
Prevention can often be the best solution when it comes to protecting your hearing. Here are the best tips for protecting yourself against hearing loss.
Types of protection
It is possible to buy hearing protection from high street retailers or specialist providers.
- Disposable foam inserts: these are off the shelf solutions that mould themselves to the shape of your ear.
- Over the ear defenders: also known as ear muffs. This type of protection works by enclosing the ears completely—keeping your ears safe from loud sounds.
- Custom ear protection: for those who need to wear hearing protection frequently, this increasingly popular choice works well. Designed to fit your ears specifically, they have the capability to subdue louder sounds whilst letting softer and quieter sounds travel through. Custom ear protection is popular with musicians and those who work in loud environments for extended periods of time.
Other prevention methods
There are ways to prevent your hearing getting damaged by exposure to noise. Here are a few tips that may help.
- Keep away from loud environments: this can be easier said than done but keeping away from louder environments when you can gives your ears the break they need.
- Keep the volume on your music player down: If you want to listen to music through headphones, it’s best to keep the volume down.
Consequences of not protecting your hearing
Protecting your hearing is essential to avoiding hearing loss. If you suspect you have a hearing loss, whether due to exposure to noise or any other cause, it’s best to seek help as soon as you can.
In some instances, a solution as simple as cleaning the ear of wax could help the problem. However, in other instances, it may be that you could benefit from using a hearing device, such as hearing aids.
Learn more about hearing loss, hearing protection and hearing aids with our selected partners, Hidden Hearing.