International Ear Care Day 2015- Making Listening Safe

EarbudsMarch 3, 2015 is the World Health Organization’s International Ear Care Day. The annual advocacy day aims to raise awareness about ear health and hearing loss. This year’s topic “Making Listening Safe” draws attention to the dangers of noise exposure on our hearing. Millions of young people, as well as adults, are at risk for noise-induced hearing loss due to exposure from personal audio devices, noisy entertainment venues, and other environments.

According to Dr. Ana Kim, of the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, listening to music with ear buds at the highest volume can damage a child’s hearing forever in just 15 minutes. Dr. Kim said, “Headphones can be cranked up to a volume about 110 decibels, far exceeding the recommended level of 80 decibels. As a general rule I tell them to keep the volume around 50 percent.” Earbuds that fit completely into the ear canal can isolate noise and allow the listener to keep the volume lower.

Other environments such as nightclubs, bars, concerts and sporting events can damage our hearing. In 2014, the Seattle Seahawks Centurylink field set a Guinness World Record for the loudest sports arena, reaching a level of 137.6 decibels. Sustained exposure for hours to levels over 100 decibels can be very damaging to our hearing. It is important to wear hearing protection such as earplugs when in environments with lots of noise.

Making listening safe is so important since once you lose your hearing, it won’t come back! Some preventative actions include keeping the volume down by determining safe listening levels on your personal audio device or by wearing ear plugs in noisy venues. It is best to use carefully fitted, and if possible, noise cancelling ear/headphones. Another action you can take consists of limiting your time spent engaged in noisy activities. In noisy venues, take short listening breaks and move away from loud sounds. We recommend limiting the daily use of personal audio devices to <1 hour/day. Monitor safe listening levels through use of smartphone apps.

Most importantly, get an annual hearing test if you are over the age of 50 and every to two years for those under the age of 50. It has been estimated that 1.1 billion young people worldwide are at risk of hearing loss due to unsafe listening practices. Over 43 million people 12-35 years live with a disabling hearing loss. You should look after your hearing the same way you look after your eyes and teeth!

It is important to heed the warning signs of a noise induced hearing loss, such as ringing in the ears (tinnitus) and difficulty hearing high pitched sounds, understanding speech on the telephone and following conversations in a noisy venue.

At Audio Help Hearing Centers, our team of skilled Audiologists provide complete audiological evaluations to test hearing and determine any hearing loss. In addition, we provide comfortable and custom-made hearing protection for all types of noisy environments. In particular, we fit musician’s earplugs, which conserves the musical sound quality while providing a safe listening environment. Be informed and protect your hearing now before it’s too late!