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Imagine life in a rural area before the industrial revolution. You might wake to a quiet environment including only the sounds of birds and insects. As you went about your day, you might encounter the sound of carriage wheels and a horse’s hooves against cobblestones, but even these transportation sounds might be rare. As you went about a day’s work, machines would not fill your sound environment whatsoever. In the evening you might listen to or play acoustic music for entertainment, or a family member might read a favorite text aloud.
Fast forward to our busy technologically driven lives. Alarms start the day, and the sound of grinding motors accompanies our every move. Sirens, car horns, and jackhammers are commonplace, and workplaces may include incessant machine sounds for some. Others wear headphones nearly from waking to sleeping, including all day long while working on computers. These headphones, particularly when used in already-noisy environments, can be punishingly loud. For generations our ears were accustomed to the pre-industrial sounds described above. Only in the last few centuries of human history have we been inundated with the sounds of new technology and machines. When the tiny amplifiers inside headphones are projecting sound directly into our ears, the risks are even greater.
The volume of sound is measured in decibels, and human speech tends to register around 60 decibels. Machines can deliver the auditory shock of 80 decibels or above, and a loud concert can deliver in excess of 110 decibels. Aside from the injurious noises of explosives or jet engines, our ears take a beating in the process of everyday life. With such risks around us everywhere we go, a few tips can help prevent hearing loss despite the many causes of damage.
Turn It Down
Headphones are commonplace, yet our ears are not suited to the volumes they are capable of delivering. Earbuds can easily channel 90 decibels of sound or more, and many register 100 decibels at the loudest setting. It is recommended to keep headphone use to 90 minutes per day, and even that length is best with regular breaks interspersed. If you wear headphones on public transportation, lawnmowers, or treadmills, it is easy to push the volume to the max. Invest in a set of noise-cancelling headphones to keep out the sound from the environment, enabling you to lower the volume on your mobile device or audio player. Although earbuds are convenient and easy to pop in and out, the time spent using them can add up quickly. Keep a vigilant watch on the daily time spent using headphones to preserve your hearing.
Work with Protection
The workplace can become a source of hearing injury when it includes repetitive noise or periodic loud sounds. Even workplaces that are non-industrial can have very loud sound environments, including noisy restaurants or businesses that play music throughout the day. Talk to your HR manager about assistance with hearing protection. They should be eager to help you acquire and pay for a good pair of earplugs or noise cancelling earmuffs in many instances. Custom-fitted earplugs can be very comfortable to wear and can save your ears from damage at work.
Give It A Break
Periodic breaks from sound can do wonders for protecting your hearing. When you step from a noisy urban environment into a quiet home or office, you may notice a slight ringing. If that is the case, you should not turn up the volume on a radio or television to drown it out. On the contrary, it is time to enjoy the silence for a while. You might be surprised how rejuvenating a period of quite time can be, giving your ears a break and your mind a rest from filtering out the inundation of sounds that accosts the ears. Sleeping in a quiet environment is best when it is possible. Although we can close our eyes to sleep each night, from birth to death we never blink our ears.
With these tips in mind, you can prevent hearing loss further into your later life, even if a noisy urban environment surrounds you. Although we can’t turn back the clock to rural pre-industrial days, we can work against the tide to prevent hearing loss. To learn more, contact us at Kenwood Hearing Centers.