NOISE POLLUTION AND HEARING HEALTH

There is noise pollution everywhere we go: there are even “noise-cancelling” features in our earbuds and headphones that filter out background noises for us. If we are exposed to unwanted noises for too long, it can be very irritating. No matter what the noise pollution: airplanes overhead or traffic from a nearby road, a dog barking or a lawnmower in a neighbor’s yard– noise pollution is ubiquitous.

Filtering Noise Pollution

With all of the noise surrounding us, it’s no wonder we have different ways to filter it. Our “noise filters” help us block unwanted noise and hear the sounds we do want to hear. Noise pollution is all of the unwanted sound.

Noise pollution can be made up of every-day sounds, and even some of the sounds we want to hear can pose a risk to hearing health. Stereo systems at concerts, movie theaters, sporting events, or even home speakers or ear buds can expose your ears to sounds so loud they can damage your hearing. We like to attend social gatherings and places like bars, concerts, or fireworks shows, but they can increase risk of hearing damage the most.

Hearing Damage

Noise-induced hearing loss can be caused by exposure to noises over 80 decibels. This hearing loss can be temporary or permanent. Loud, short bursts of noises, like a gunshot or an airplane overhead, can hurt our ears and can cause hearing damage right away.

Even everyday noises we don’t think much about can affect our hearing health. Examples of these noises are lawnmowers (about 90 decibels) and vacuum cleaners (about 70 decibels) By comparison, a normal conversation may be about 60 decibels.

Noise pollution can actually affect our entire bodies. A loud noise such as a bang can disturb digestion, alter your heartbeat and disrupt breathing patterns. Constant exposure to a loud noise can cause crankiness and make it difficult to sleep. Noise can even impact your blood pressure.

After attending a very noisy event like a fireworks show, you may experience a ringing sound in your ears. This ringing is tinnitus, and it can last just a few minutes or even a few days. Permanent hearing loss can result if there are several episodes of tinnitus. Age related hearing loss is due in part to this cumulative effect of hearing damage over a lifetime.

Be Proactive

Fortunately, we can be pro-active to prevent hearing damage by protecting ourselves from noise pollution. This will help to make sure we maintain good hearing even into our older years. Limiting exposure to loud noises is of course one of the best ways to prevent hearing loss. There are a lot of noises we control, like our own stereo systems when we watch movies or listen to music at home. When you are on the go, you can still listen to music but make a switch to over-the-ear headphones instead of earbuds, which are more likely to damage hearing.

When we have plans to attend a very loud event, do your best to avoid the noisiest spots, or even bring ear plugs. If there are loud noises outside such as construction work or a lawnmower, close the windows until the noise subsides.

Noise-canceling headphones allow us to enjoy music at lower volumes, without having to compete with the noises outside of the headphones. That can help to protect hearing for the future as well.

By taking small, easy steps to protect your hearing on a daily basis, you can work to prevent hearing damage as you get older.

If you suspect hearing loss, whatever the cause, visit your audiologist to take action. You may find a resolution that can inhibit or stop the development of hearing damage.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening.

PROTECT YOUR HEARING AND STILL ENJOY CONCERTS!

With summertime comes fun in the sun and outdoors at concerts and picnics.  It’s the time for beach visits and laying out by the pool, park outings, and outdoor concerts when the day cools into evening. Festivals and concerts are a great change meet new friends, hear great music and hang out outside.

One thing that all concerts are is loud, however: often the noise levels are in more than 100 decibels! We know that hearing loss can happen at noise levels that are higher than 80 dB, it’s vital that we take precautions to guard our hearing. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy summer festivities!

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss and Youth

An estimated 1.1 billion youth world-wide have been affected by noise-induced hearing damage. Energetic and adventurous, young people often gather in loud environments such as night clubs, sporting events and concerts, which often have very loud music or noise from crowds.

Even a short period of exposure to loud music can cause hearing damage, so it is important to find ways to protect your ears before going to these venues.

In one Amsterdam study in 2015, the effects on hearing of wearing earplugs or not wearing them was measured for outdoor concert-goers. 25 people wore earplugs to the concert and 26 people went without them. Of those, In the 4.5-hours concert, temporary hearing loss was measured in 22 of the 26 unprotected participants.

In contrast, only 4 people of the 25 wearing earplugs showed any hearing damage at all. Since repeated occurrences of temporary hearing loss can lead to permanent hearing loss, preventing even temporary hearing damage is crucial to long-term hearing health.

What Should I Do?

When worn during exposure to loud noises, earplugs can help to prevent noise-induced hearing loss. So next time you attend a sporting event, concert, or night club consider grabbing a pair of earplugs first.

Though this type of hearing loss is often temporary, remember that repeated exposure can have long-term effects and eventually become permanent damage. Sounds being muffled or difficulty hearing quiet sounds are some symptoms of hearing loss. If you experience any of these symptoms, please see your audiologist for a hearing screening to check on the level of damage and if anything can be done to prevent further hearing loss.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening.

Simple Steps to Protect and Preserve Your Hearing

The key to preserving hearing is prevention. Once hearing function has been diminished or lost, there is no way to reverse it. Unfortunately many do not realize all of the easy things we can do to protect our hearing while we still have it. Here are a few simple steps to prevent hearing loss and protect your hearing health now, before it’s too late.

Keep the Volume Low

Many people, especially teenagers and young adults, love to listen to music using headphones. The sound quality is great and you can take your music wherever you go! Using these devices, however, make it easy to keep the volume at unsafe levels. This puts 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults at risk for noise-induced hearing loss, according to the World Health Organization.

Protect Your Ears When Loud Noises are Unavoidable

When it’s within your control, adjusting the volume is easy. Sometimes, however, you are in a position that you can’t turn the volume down and a loud noise is unavoidable. Make it a habit of carrying earplugs with you for this inevitable circumstance. Whether you’re at a loud concert, mowing the lawn or are bothered by loud construction work outside your window, ear protection can be the difference in extending your hearing health as long as possible.

Recovery Time is Important

If your ears are exposed to loud noise, especially without protection, give them quiet time to recover. If possible, step outside or away from the noise periodically for 5 minute stretches to give your ears time to rest. Research has found that after one loud night out, our ears need about 16 hours of quiet to recover.

Kick the Cotton Swabs to the Curb

Cotton swabs are a common way for people to clean the wax out of their ears, but doctors do not recommend it. A little bit of wax build-up in your ears serves an important function: wax helps to protect your ears and keep them clean by trapping dust and other particles, preventing them from entering the ear canal. Inserting a cotton swab too deep in the ear canal also risks damaging the ear drum.

Some people do have excess wax, however. If that’s you, a damp towel can gently and effectively clean out the ear canal. Wax removal solution can also be used for severe cases: it softens the wax over a period of a couple of nights, allowing the wax to flow out on its own.

Dry Ears are Happy Ears

When excess moisture is trapped in the ear canal, this can breed bacteria that may cause swimmer’s ear or ear infections. Be sure to towel-dry your ears after bathing or swimming, and if you feel water trapped in your ear, tilt your head to the side and pull on your earlobe to allow the water to flow out. If that doesn’t work, lay down on the offending side for a few minutes. The relaxation and gravity should coax the water out.

If it is an ongoing problem, custom-fit swimmers’ earplugs are also a great option, and are available for both adults and children. Make an appointment to get fitted for a pair today!

Exercise Can Improve Hearing Health

You knew that moving was good for your heart and your waistline, but who knew it was also good for your ears? Cardiovascular exercise such as walking, biking and running increases circulation to all parts of your body, including your ears. And circulation is great for your ears: it keeps them healthy and performing at top levels!

Don’t Stress Out

Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) has been linked to high stress and anxiety, which fill your body with adrenaline. When this happens, your body heat, circulation and nerves take a hit, and this pressure can migrate to your inner ear, causing tinnitus symptoms.

Step Away From the Medicine

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprophen, naproxen and aspirin have been linked to hearing loss in recent studies. Many people think they are safe because they can be bought without a prescription, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have dangers. Use these medications sparingly, especially if you’ve noticed any decrease in hearing ability when using them.

Have Your Ears Checked Regularly

Regular hearing screenings can make a big difference in catching hearing loss early, and preventing further damage. Hearing loss develops slowly, so yearly check-ups with a hearing professional can let you know as soon as there is an issue.

It’s important to know if you are experiencing a decline in hearing ability, and take steps to prevent further decline, because hearing loss is linked to more serious issues such as dementia, depression and heart disease.

Do your health a favor, and make an appointment at California Hearing Center to check your hearing today!