Hearing Protection

How to Protect Your Hearing

To protect your hearing and maintain healthy auditory function, consider the following tips:

  1. Use ear protection in loud environments, such as concerts, sporting events, or when operating noisy machinery.
  2. Limit your exposure to excessive noise and take breaks in quieter areas when possible.
  3. Be mindful of the volume level when using headphones or earbuds, and avoid prolonged listening at high volumes.
  4. Regularly clean your ears, but avoid inserting objects into the ear canal that could cause damage.
  5. If you work in a noisy environment, make sure to comply with hearing conservation regulations and wear appropriate hearing protection provided by your employer.
  6. Stay aware of potential ototoxic medications (medications that can damage hearing) and discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider.
  7. Maintain a healthy lifestyle, including managing chronic conditions like diabetes and maintaining cardiovascular health, as they can affect hearing.
  8. Schedule regular hearing check-ups with an ENT specialist to monitor your hearing health and address any concerns.
  9. Schedule a routine hearing screen if you are 50 years old or older.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Hearing Protection

Routine hearing screening is now recommended for everyone over the age of 50.

Sound is measured in decibels (dB). Any sound above 85dB is potentially harmful, especially with prolonged exposure. Regular exposure to noise above 85dB can cause permanent hearing loss. For reference, normal conversations are about 60dB, a lawnmower is around 90dB, and a loud rock concert can reach levels of 120dB or more. High-intensity sounds like gunfire or fireworks, reaching around 140dB or above, can cause immediate damage. The louder the sound, the shorter amount of time it takes for hearing loss to occur. It’s not just the intensity but also the duration of exposure that counts when assessing potential harm.

Both earmuffs and earplugs provide effective protection, but they offer different advantages. Earplugs are small, portable, and can provide a higher level of protection when inserted correctly. They’re especially useful in high noise environments or when wearing other headgear. However, incorrect use can decrease their effectiveness. Earmuffs, on the other hand, are easier to use, offer consistent protection, and can be more comfortable for extended wear, particularly for individuals who may not like the feeling of earplugs. They are also easier to remove and replace, making them more suitable for environments where noise levels fluctuate. It’s worth noting that for maximum protection, especially in extremely loud environments, both can be used together.

Noise may be dangerous if it’s loud enough that you have to raise your voice to be heard, if it causes pain or discomfort in your ears, if it makes your ears ring, or if you have difficulty hearing for several hours after exposure. Technically, any sound above 85dB is potentially harmful with prolonged or repeated exposure. Decibel measuring apps are available for smartphones that can provide a rough estimation of sound levels. Remember, both the loudness of the noise and the duration of exposure contribute to potential hearing damage.

The best way to protect your ears from loud noise is to limit your exposure. If this isn’t possible, use hearing protection such as earplugs or earmuffs. For extremely loud environments, using both can provide maximum protection. Regular breaks from noise exposure can also help prevent hearing damage. Furthermore, if you work in a loud environment, it’s essential to have regular hearing checks to monitor any potential changes in your hearing capacity. Additionally, turning down the volume on personal audio devices can significantly reduce your risk of hearing damage.

Exposure to noise above 85dB can lead to permanent hearing loss. The exact duration varies but as a general rule, if you have to shout to be heard, the noise is likely loud enough to be damaging over time. For instance, eight hours of daily exposure to 85dB noise can cause hearing damage, but only 15 minutes of exposure at 100dB can have the same effect. Sounds at 120dB or above can cause immediate damage. Remember, both the level of noise and the duration of exposure determine the amount of harm to your hearing.

If your ears hurt after exposure to loud noise, it may be a sign of noise-induced hearing damage. You should first remove yourself from the noisy environment to prevent further damage. Over-the-counter pain medication may help with pain, but it won’t address potential hearing damage. You should also avoid loud noises to give your ears a chance to recover. If the pain persists or if you experience tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or hearing loss, consult a healthcare professional immediately.

Common loud noises you should avoid or use protection against include machinery and power tools, concerts, sporting events, loud music through headphones, fireworks, gunshots, motor engines, and household appliances like vacuum cleaners and lawn mowers. Noises in crowded places like bars, restaurants, and gyms can also reach harmful levels. Remember, any sound over 85dB can be harmful with prolonged exposure, and it’s not just the loudness of the sound but also the duration of exposure that can cause damage.

Here at Boulder Valley ENT we provide custom hearing protection. Our audiology specialists create custom-molded earplugs that will fit your ears perfectly, providing maximum noise reduction. Be aware that online retailers who offer do-it-yourself molding kits do not provide the best results and poorly fitted hearing protection can cause further problems by giving a false sense of security without offering adequate protection.

Contact Us Today!

At Boulder Valley Ear, Nose & Throat Associates, we provide the highest quality patient care in a friendly, professional atmosphere. We emphasize personalized customer service, availability, efficiency, honesty and integrity, and attention to detail. We strive to do things the right way at every level, all the time. 

If you are at risk for hearing loss and are interested in learning more about hearing protection, schedule an appointment with one of our caring and experienced ENT specialists for a full evaluation today!