Our daily lives are filled with noise. From honking car horns and sirens to music on the radio and face-to-face conversation. Our world is quite a noisy place, but many of us don’t think about how all this noise is affecting our hearing in the long run.
Nearly 14 percent of people aged 45 to 65 have some level of hearing loss. The number is probably higher, but many older people are either in denial or don’t get their hearing checked, which can be quite detrimental because hearing loss is an irreversible condition. Common reasons for delayed hearing loss treatment include the negative association and stigmatization of the use of hearing aids, the expensive cost of hearing aids, not being aware of hearing loss due to its gradual onset, and the lack of knowledge that hearing loss progression can be delayed with early treatment.
Noise is a large contributing factor to hearing loss, especially excessive noise. Excessive noise refers to being exposed to one-time noise over 120 decibels (the level of sound produced by a gunshot) or consistent or prolonged noise over 80 decibels (the sound of a passing motorcycle, for example).
Noise decibel examples
Stereo system at maximum volume
It only takes one minute of exposure to these sounds to develop permanent hearing loss.
Continuous or prolonged exposure to these sounds can contribute to permanent hearing loss.
It is recommended that you should listen to levels 75 decibels or below to preserve hearing. Unfortunately, not all noises can be controlled such as traffic noises or overhead airplanes, so it’s important that you take other steps to protect your hearing as much as possible.
Daily habits that are increasing your risk of hearing loss
In your daily life, you are exposed to many different levels of noise that can contribute to hearing loss. Here are some of those daily habits that you can control to maintain your hearing.
- Headphone use: Listening to music at high volumes through headphones can lead to permanent hearing loss.
- Not wearing ear protection at your job: Common jobs that require ear protection include military jobs, mining, manufacturing, agriculture, transportation, carpentry, plumbing.
- Lack of exercise: Obesity has been shown to be a risk factor for hearing loss, so regular exercise can help you lose weight.
- Smoking: Chemicals in cigarettes can affect your overall health, including your hearing, as it damages the tiny mechanisms in the ear that aid in hearing ability.
- Having an infection: Not properly treating ear infections can cause damage over time, which can contribute to hearing loss
- Excessive drinking: Studies have shown lifelong drinking can disrupt the brain’s ability to interrupt sound.
- Poor dental hygiene: Bacteria found in the mouth can enter the bloodstream, which causes heart problems. Poor circulation can contribute to hearing loss because the mechanisms in the ear cannot get enough oxygenated blood, which they need to function properly
You have control over many of these habits, so if you want to preserve your hearing as much as possible, improving these factors can go a long way. Consider the noises around you and find ways to reduce exposure to them.