If there’s one aspect of our health that requires a little more care and attention but doesn’t often get the profile that it deserves, it’s easy to argue that hearing health should take center stage more often. Hearing loss affects a large proportion of people, especially as we get into our older years, but there is a fear that more and more young are at risk of developing hearing loss early as a result of one risk in particular: excessive noise.

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How does excessive noise put you at risk?

Basically, the hair cells inside our inner ears, which are responsible for picking up sound waves and transmitting them to electrical pulses to send them to our brain, are somewhat delicate. Loud noise can damage the cells and membranes in our ear, including these hair cells, which do die when overworked. When these cells die, they don’t get replaced, either.

It’s more than just a hearing loss thing

Hearing loss is one of the kinds of risks that loud noises can pose, as well. You might have experienced a ringing in your ears after exposure to particularly loud noise. Typically, this ringing will go away on its own. However, for people who remain exposed to loud noises for a longer period of time, this ringing (known as tinnitus) can remain. If you experience this, it’s recommended you seek out tinnitus consults as soon as you can. Tinnitus has been known to remain with people for years, sometimes their entire lives, and can greatly affect your quality of life, especially if you don’t make efforts to find the right relief.

Knowing your risk levels

While it might be hard to judge what, exactly, is an excessive level of noise when you’re out and about or working, there are some ways to gauge when you should be taking care of your ears. First of all, the max volume on any pair of headphones or earphones when you’re listening to music on your phone is dangerously excessive, to the point that these devices will often give you a warning before you turn the volume up that high. Any noise over 85 decibels or higher (roughly the level of noise produced by a lawnmower) can start to lead to a risk of hearing loss. The louder the noise is, the less exposure it takes to start affecting you. 95-decibel noises, such as that of a motorcycle engine, can cause damage to your hearing in 50 minutes.

Sources of excessive noise

When you’re thinking about what to do about excessive noise, then it’s important to think about where it’s coming from, first and foremost. There are some things in the home, such as your lawnmower, power tools, and perhaps even a particularly loud blender, that can cause it, but rarely for long enough to do damage. The biggest risks for young people, at the moment, are their workplaces, as well as the music that they listen to. 

What you can do to prevent it

Once you know where your risks are coming from, it’s a simple thing to mitigate those risks. If you’re listening to your music at too loud a volume, then you must make an effort to lower it each time you listen, until you can get used to listening and hearing at a lower volume. For external sources of noise, there are types of hearing protection that you can look into investing into, whether it’s earplugs or custom earmolds. These are all built to provide different levels of hearing protection so consider your needs before choosing the right option for you.

Get to know your hearing health

Your hearing health is important, and excessive noise is only one risk that can affect it. That’s why it’s a good idea to start off with a baseline hearing test as soon as you can get one. This way, you can get a test to compare future tests to, helping you more easily notice and diagnose any changes to your hearing. If you have any signs of hearing loss or tinnitus that won’t go away after a day, book an appointment. Untreated changes to your hearing can affect your life in some surprising and very unpleasant ways.

If you want to make sure that you’re taking your health seriously, then you need to start thinking about the role of excessive noise, how you and your family might be exposed to it, and what you can start doing to manage the influence it may have over your life.