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Caring For Your Hearing

Caring for your hearing

There are two main factors that contribute to hearing loss: exposure to noise and ageing. Unfortunately, you can't do much about the second one, but you can certainly take steps to ensure that your hearing is not damaged by excessive sound levels.

Human hearing is at its best in your early years and will gradually decline with age. Luck and hereditary factors play a role in how quickly it may deteriorate, but it's safe to say that no one will hear as well as they once did in the latter years of their life.

Many people may have already been exposed to excessive noise levels at work or in their social lives. The good news is that, even if this has happened, you can avoid noise levels that may further damage your hearing. The bad news is that noise damage to your hearing is permanent and will only worsen over time. Very few people lose large amounts of their hearing all at once, and symptoms often manifest as a lack of clarity when listening to others or the TV.

The first question to answer is, "How much noise is too much?" Unless you carry a sound level meter around with you, a rule of thumb is that if you have to raise your voice in conversation with someone else at a distance of one meter, then you are probably in an excessively noisy situation. Your choices thereafter, of course, are:

  • Put up with it and risk damaging your hearing.
  • Move to another area.
  • Stop or limit the noise.
  • Wear hearing protection.

If the first three are difficult, then you should seriously consider the last one. Many BSHAA members can advise and fit you with hearing protection. You may even ask them to provide you with an up-to-date hearing assessment to see whether your hearing is affected now and provide a benchmark for the future.

Although there is less heavy industry than there used to be, the modern world has come up with many other ways to damage your hearing through excessive noise levels:

Music streaming through headphones – unlike the old days when tapes or CDs came to an end, listening to music through popular apps can go on endlessly. Not only that but we are also encouraged to turn up the noise to compete with traffic and travel.

Live music – festivals and gigs are more popular than they ever have been and if you've ever left one of these with your ears ringing, then you've overdone it.

Gardening and DIY – modern power tools will routinely exceed damaging levels, so even those who do these in their leisure time should consider protecting their hearing.

Traffic & city life – ever given any thought to how noisy your High Street is? Cars, buses & trains are all capable of delivering these sound levels, never mind the bars and restaurants that so many of us choose to frequent.

If you are concerned about your hearing or would like advice on how to protect it, why not consult a BSHAA member? You can find your nearest Audiologist here.