When we think of preventable injuries, we may not think of our ears. But hearing loss is a growing health issue for both adolescents and older Americans, with 48 million people nationwide suffering from hearing loss.
The good news is that noise-induced hearing loss is completely preventable. Take these tips from the National Hearing Loss Association of America.
Remember, the noise is too loud when:
- You have to raise your voice to be understood by someone standing nearby;
- The noise hurts your ears;
- You develop a buzzing or ringing sound in your ears, even temporarily;
- You don’t hear as well as you normally do until several hours after you get away from the noise.
Protect yourself by:
- Following the “60/60 Rule,” which means limiting the use of ear bud headphones to 60 minutes at a time and at 60 percent of the device’s maximum volume;
- When around loud noise, protect yourself by:
- Turning down the volume if you can;
- Blocking the noise (with earplugs or ear defenders);
- Avoiding the noise (put your hands over your ears if you can’t walk away).
Protect your children and teens as well, especially by monitoring their use of personal listening devices. According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, “Listening to loud music though ear buds – the tiny electronic speakers that fit into ears – is probably the main reason that more adolescents are losing some of their hearing.” If your child is wearing ear buds and you can hear the sound while standing next to them, the music is too loud.
Ototoxic medications, including some over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin in high doses, some antibiotics, and some chemotherapy drugs, can also cause hearing loss. Ask your doctor if hearing loss is one of the possible side-effects of a medication and if it is, whether there is a substitute medication that would work just as well for you.
Learn more about how to prevent, diagnose, and live with hearing loss.