Do you work in a noisy place, use headphones regularly, or visit places with loud music? There are many ways to make listening safe, and with over a billion young people at risk of avoidable hearing loss due to recreational sounds (Airpods, earbuds, concerts, loud music, bars), preventing noise-related hearing loss is a pressing concern for people of all ages.
Did you know that 1 in 2 young people are at risk of permanent hearing loss due to unsafe listening? This translates to 1.1 billion young people worldwide at risk from listening too loud and too long.
Listening to loud sounds can damage the sensory cells in your ears and can cause noise-induced hearing loss or ringing in the ear, known as tinnitus. You could be at risk of noise-induced hearing loss if you regularly:
Work in a noisy environment
Listen to audio over headphones or earphones
Visit places with amplified music such as nightclubs, concerts, sporting events, or fitness classes
Tips To Make Listening Safer
Even young people are at risk of hearing loss and tinnitus due to a variety of recreational factors in modern life. There are things you can do to protect your hearing:
Safer Headphone Use
If you use headphones (Airpods, earbuds, or over the ear headphones), turn the volume down. The louder you listen, the shorter the time for listening safely. Set your device’s volume to no more than 60% of maximum. Use well-fitted, noise cancelling headphones and avoid daily use.
Tips For Noisy Environments
If you are exposed to a noisy environment, take regular breaks in a quiet area and wear earplugs or protective earmuffs. Move away from sources of sound such as speakers. Sounds can be harmful when they are very loud, even for a short time. Just two minutes of exposure to sounds at or above 110 A-weighted decibels (such as fireworks) can damage your hearing. Sounds can also be harmful when they are not quite as loud, but you are exposed over a longer period of time.
There are a variety of built-in apps and features in smartphones to help you monitor your sound exposure. Choose devices with built-in safe listening features. You can use free apps to check the sound levels around you, such as with using the NIOSH Sound Level Meter App.
Watch For Warning Signs
You could have noise-induced hearing loss if you have:
Persistent ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
Difficulties hearing high-pitched sounds such as birds singing, doorbells, telephones, etc.
Difficulty understanding speech in louder environments or over the phone
Difficulty following conversations in noisy environments such as restaurants, markets, or social events
It is important to take preventive actions and limit exposure to loud sounds. This can limit risk of progression of hearing loss. WHO has developed a mobile and web-based software application for hearing screening which can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play.
If you think you may be experiencing hearing loss or have tinnitus, get your hearing checked by a healthcare professional.
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