Prevention is always better than the cure. Hearing loss can occur even if you do not necessarily work in loud, noisy environments. It can occur even if you operate loud machinery at home, such as lawn mowers, snow blowers, chainsaws or other power tools. You may also suffer from hearing loss as a result of prolonged exposure to loud noises at music concerts or sporting events. As such it is important to be aware of the preventative measure that you can take to help preserve your sense of hearing.
You can use disposable earplugs to help shield your ears. These earplugs are similar to the ones that people wear during swimming and are made of foam or plastic of various shapes and sizes. These earplugs only tamp down the sound but do not eradicate it altogether, which enables you to still listen to the music or your surroundings. These earplugs can be used to reduce the sound of traffic or the persistent sound of your partner’s snoring. These types of earplugs are inexpensive as well as comfortable, but should definitely be thrown away after a single or double use, ensuring to wipe off the earplugs before the next use to remove bacteria or dirt.
Custom-fit earplugs can be a long-term solution to constantly having to purchase earplugs. Your audiologist can take an impression of your ears to make personalized plastic earplugs that are perfectly suited for your specific ears. Even though these are costlier than disposable earplugs, regular use can make these earplugs worthwhile because they are comfortable and long-lasting, with each custom-fit earplug lasting between 3-5 years. These earplugs are available in various colors, shapes, and sizes. The earplugs require daily cleaning with a small brush, soap and water or hydrogen peroxide.
Earmuffs can also be used to block large volumes of noise. For those who feel uncomfortable inserting something into their ear canals people can use earmuffs, especially for situations that are short in time duration such as lawn mowing, shooting, or using power tools. Earmuffs are bulky and can thus become uncomfortable if worn for prolonged periods of time, but they are easy to clean and can be worn with additional auditory protection like earplugs.
It is important to address the root cause of hearing loss. Sound is measured in decibels (dB) and the louder the sound is, the higher the dB would be. Regular verbal conversations measure around 50-60dB while the use of a lawn mower can generate sounds as high as 120dB or more. Scientists suggest that prolonged exposure to sounds exceeding 85dB can cause hearing loss. Earplugs and earmuffs receive noise reduction ratings (NRR) which can provide you with accurate information as to the percentage of noise that is reduced through their use.
Research suggests that as much as 26 million Americans tend to suffer from some form of hearing loss as a result of constant exposure to loud noises. Hearing loss is a gradual process thus regular visits to an audiologist is recommended to help you test your hearing and ensure auditory protection to prevent long-term hearing loss.
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