The key to protecting your hearing from noise-related injury lies in knowing the causes of hearing loss and limiting your exposure.
Over a lifetime, most people will experience some degree of hearing loss, but there are several steps you can take to ensure your hearing stays at its best for as long as possible.
The causes of hearing loss
Hearing loss can be attributed to four main factors:
- excessive noise caused by loud music or garden machinery
- certain medicines, such as quinine, chloroquine and salicylates
- some diseases, such as mumps, whooping cough and syphilis
- physical injury, such as heavy falls, cleaning the ears wrongly and swimming in dirty water.
Noise-related hearing loss
Excessive noise accounts for the most common reason from which people suffer hearing loss. Unlike damage to your hearing that is caused by certain medicines and physical injury, noise-induced hearing loss is irreversible once it occurs.
Noise-induced hearing loss happens when the delicate hair cells in the inner ear are exposed to very loud sounds. Hearing a ringing in your ears (tinnitus) is a good indicator that damage to your hearing has occurred.
Generally, sounds of less than 75 decibels (db), even after long exposure, do not cause hearing loss. However, sounds that exceed 85db are considered harmful.
Here are some average decibel readings of common sounds:
- a refrigerator humming – 45db
- a typical conversation – 60db
- noise from a blender – 80db
- a rock concert – 100db
You can protect your hearing from excessive noise by:
- reducing your exposure to excessive noise by wearing earplugs in loud environments, including at concerts and on worksites
- setting the volume on TVs, radios, stereos and devices at less than 60 per cent of the maximum volume
- wearing noise-cancelling headphones, which reduce ambient noise and mean you can lower the volume of your music without having to worry about external noise
- getting regular hearing check-ups through an audiologist.
Read more at betterhealth.vic.gov.au
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