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Most of us don’t really consider how important our hearing is until it starts to recede. Unfortunately, this is an experience approximately 48 million people in the US currently experience, across age groups and demographics. Often misconstrued as a condition which affects the elderly, due to unsafe listening practices and lifestyle choices, hearing loss is rapidly becoming more common in younger generations. Hearing loss in 90 percent of cases is permanent, so it is important to do what you can now to prevent it before it becomes a lifelong issue. Part of prevention is knowing when your hearing is at risk. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that Over 11% of the working population has hearing difficulty, and nearly one out of four cases of worker hearing difficulty are caused by work-related exposures. However, many sources of hearing loss are in your own home. Here are just a few to look out for:
Most Dangerous Household Items for Your Hearing Health:
Earbuds & Headphones
A lot of people understand that while going to loud night clubs, concerts or sporting events can be loud enough to damage your hearing, they are unbeknownst that they may be creating one of the largest issues in their own home. According to the World Health Organization, the number one cause of hearing loss is loud music- especially from personal listening devices like mp3 players and smartphones. The volume of sounds is measured in decibels, and any decibel exposure of 85 dBA for eight hours or more can start to cause permanent hearing damage. Not only do personal listening devices easily exceed safe listening levels but many often listen much longer past safe limits- especially younger generations. However, you can still listen safely. Keep to level below 60 percent of the potential volume and make sure to take listening breaks every half hour or so to give your ears a chance to rest.
For those of us with kids, the sounds and songs our children’s toys make can haunt us. Before we realize it they may become the soundtrack of our lives! However, beyond annoying, many kids toys also come with some hazards attached – particularly for hearing. Sounds cause more damage at close range and children’s ear canals are smaller and shorter making them more sensitive to sound. Test the decibel levels of your kids toys to make sure they are at a safe volume in your home.
Many machines in our home add to ease and convenience in completing household chores and keeping our homes running smoothly. Consider that many of these can be loud enough to put us at the cusp of hearing loss. When many of these machines are running at the same time, we may well reach past the safe listening threshold of 85 dBA. The higher the decibel level, the shorter time it takes for damage to occur. For instance, your vacuum cleaner is likely to be between 70 and 90 dB, while your blender can reach up to 100 decibels. For those who use a hair dryer you may want to put in hearing protection while using it. We love voluminous hair but putting an appliance that can easily reach 90 dB a couple of inches from your ear canal daily is certainly not worth it! Sounds can compound so while your dishwasher or A/C unit may run at a safe volume, when combined you may be creating an environment so noisy, you are causing hearing damage.
It’s good for the mind and soul to work on home projects- however, like anything, it’s got to be done with research first and safety to get the desired results. This includes safely managing sound. A power drill can easily average at 100 dBA, a gas-powered lawn mower, at 105 dB and a chainsaw at 110 dBA. Part of any home DIY project is wearing the appropriate hearing protection.
The risk to our hearing is not only noise based. Sometimes people’s hygiene routine can make hearing worse. Everyone knows about earwax, and many of us attempt to dig it out using a cotton swab. However, doing so can actually make problems worse. For one, earwax is essential to healthy ear canals, providing antimicrobial protection, self-cleaning and lubrication. There are many fragile mechanisms within the ear canal and jabbing a cotton swab there blindly can cause earwax impaction, blocking hearing, damaging the ear canal or worse. Instead, take a hot shower and wipe away wax from the outer ear only with a damp cloth. If the issue doesn’t clear up there is always a doctor. Contact us today!
For more tips on protecting your hearing or addressing a potential issue, contact us to schedule a hearing consultation today!