We hear a lot about hearing loss, but much less about hearing conservation.
Hearing conservation is the act of taking measures to help protect the healthy hearing we do have. Hearing conservation can have a profoundly positive impact on your sense of hearing. The most important way we can conserve our hearing is by protecting our ears from excess exposure to loud noises. This helps to prevent noise induced hearing loss, which is one of the most common reasons people lose their hearing.
Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL)
As mentioned above, noise induced hearing loss is a hearing loss that is caused by excess exposure to loud noises. This can occur in one distinct and extremely loud incident such as a gunshot or jet takeoff, however, more often than not NIHL occurs over a prolonged period of time. Noise induced hearing loss can affect anyone at any age and is actually extremely common amongst young people. In fact, the World Health Organization warns that about 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of developing noise induced hearing loss due to their excess use of personal listening devices and noisy leisure activities.
Activities that Could Potentially Cause NIHL
Ways to Conserve Your Hearing
Learning about all of the activities that can cause damage to our hearing, thinking about how to conserve our hearing can feel overwhelming. There are many simple, easy, and cost-effective means you can start taking today to better conserve your hearing.
Wear Hearing Protection
This is imperative. When you participate in noisy leisure or work activities, you must use hearing protection. Disposable ear plugs do work to lessen the sounds that enter your ears and could potentially cause damage. The most effective and comfortable solution, however, is custom hearing protection that is specifically molded to fit perfectly inside your individual ears.
Take Breaks From Noise
Life is a noisy thing. It is important to participate in the activities we love, even if they are loud. On top of wearing hearing protection, be sure to also to take periodic breaks from noise as well. Make a vow to once a week swap a noisy activity (such as happy hour with coworkers) for a quieter one like a hike.
We all need leisure in our life! It’s the time we spend with our families that makes all our hard work worthwhile. While wonderful, there are many leisure activities in which we participate that could potentially damage our hearing.
Hunting and shooting. Hunting and shooting can be harmful to our hearing. This is one of those activities that could damage our hearing with just one incident. It is imperative that you wear hearing protection each and every time you hunt or shoot.
The screaming fans, the booming announcers, the excited chatter. All of these sounds we so love about attending Cardinals games are also the sounds that could potentially hurt our hearing.
Clubs, Bars and Restaurants
We love spending time with friends and family in bars and restaurants. While fun, it is important to limit the amount of time we spend in these extremely loud environments. If you have to yell for the person at the bar seat next to you to hear you, you are in an environment that is dangerous to your hearing.
The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) has set forth specific guidelines on the amount of noise we are allowed to be exposed to at work.
With all of its machinery and labor, farming is an extremely noisy job. If you are a farmer or run a farm, it is important to protect your hearing and that of your employees with high-quality hearing protection.
Especially in a garage with lots of echo, mechanics are often exposed to very, very loud noises that can damage their hearing. It is important to keep the noise levels down as much as possible in garages as well as use hearing protection.
Believe it or not, tinnitus is the number one and hearing loss is the number two most commonly treated medical conditions for returning veterans. If you are actively in the military or a veteran, it is important to protect your hearing while at work as well as get regular hearing assessments.