Did you know that some very simple, everyday factors may be causing hearing loss? A study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the U.S. has discovered that loud noises heard everyday both at home and outside are a key contributor to hearing damage.1
What did the study find?
The CDC analysed over 3,500 hearing tests that were conducted as part of the 2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The research found that 20 per cent of those that reported no occupational hearing loss still suffered damage as a result of excessive noise. This hearing loss could begin in those as young as 20, and manifested itself as a clear reduction in the ability to hear high-pitched sounds.
The study also found that around 53 per cent of adults with noise-induced hearing damage had not reported occupational exposure to loud noises.
So, what can you do to prevent hearing damage from everyday sounds?
There are three main aspects related to everyday sounds that you should focus on to reduce hearing loss – listening to audio devices, using ear plugs and ensuring you go for regular hearing check ups.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 1.1 billion young people are at risk of hearing loss due to the unsafe use of audio devices.2 In middle- and high-income countries almost 50 per cent of 12-35 year olds listen to sound levels that WHO categorises as unsafe.
The easy solution to this is to reduce the volume on your mp3 player. WHO recommend a safe level of noise of no higher than 85 dB for no longer than eight hours per day. Many smartphones and iPods have safe listening options, where you can limit the top volume you can play your music. There are also many safe listening apps, which will help limit the length of exposure to loud music.
Consider wearing earplugs
Exposure to excessive noise at venues such as concerts and clubs was also identified by WHO as a key contributor to hearing loss. If you listen to sounds at 100 dB, as is often the case at concerts and festivals, safe listening time dramatically reduces to only 15 minutes. So, if you attend a lot of venues with loud music, consider wearing earplugs. You'll still be able to hear the music, but it won't damage your hearing.
Simple daily chores like using a leaf blower or a food processor often produce noise at a dangerous level of decibels. So either look into wearing earplugs or, if this isn't possible, use this type of loud equipment for as little time as possible.
Attend regular hearing check ups
Around one in six Australians have hearing loss, according to an Access Economics study – it's not worth being one of them. Even if you aren't experiencing any symptoms, ensure you attend regular hearing check ups, as you might not recognise the early signs. This should particularly be the case if you do attend a lot of loud concerts.
Fortunately, you can take advantage of Western Hearing Services' FREE* hearing tests. For more information, call us on 1800 940 981.
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Vital Signs Report, Accessed April 2017.
2. World Health Organisation, 1.1 billion people at risk of hearing loss, Accessed April 2017.
3. Access Economics, The Economic Impact and Cost of Hearing Loss in Australia, Accessed April 2017.