As we get older, our bodies inevitably change – and some of you may well find that you become hard of hearing when you reach a certain age. Sadly, this is unavoidable and we all just have to wait and see what happens, but when it comes to hearing loss as a result of exposure to loud noises, it’s important to remember that this is entirely avoidable and there is a lot you can do.
First of all, do your best to avoid loud noises wherever and ever you can. You can tell if a noise is too loud if it hurts your ears, if you find you have muffled hearing or a ringing in your ears after the noise has stopped, if you struggle to hear what others close to you are saying or if you have to raise your voice in order to be heard.
Another step you could take – and a very 21st century one indeed – is to make use of smartphone apps that can measure noise levels so you can tell if something is likely to cause some damage and potentially affect your hearing.
If you’re someone who listens to a lot of music through headphones, be aware that listening to it too loudly can cause damage if you’re not careful. To help prevent this, always use noise-cancelling headphones so you don’t have to crank the volume up to hide noise from outside.
Also, be aware of how long you’re using your headphones and listening to music. Try to avoid using them for more than an hour at a time to protect your ears.
Another point to bear in mind is what you do for a living. If you’re exposed to loud noises on a regular basis at work, make sure you chat to your boss or manager should you have any concerns about the impact on your health and hearing.
Employers have to make changes to reduce exposure to loud noises, whether that’s through using quieter equipment, providing hearing protection like industrial earplugs and so on.
There are all sorts of different types of ear protection you can invest in these days, so it’s worth taking the time to see which ones you like. There are basic ear plugs you can buy that are made of something like memory foam or silicone, or there are customised plugs available, which might work particularly well for the likes of musicians.
Or you could go for something like defenders or ear muffs, which come with sound-deadening acoustic foam that works by absorbing sound waves. It’s all just a matter of you trying a few out and seeing which you like.