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Hearing loss affects nearly 20 percent Americans and by the time we reach age 65, one in three will have some level of hearing loss. But, there are plenty of things—most of which require little to no effort—that you can do to help protect your hearing before any irreversible harm occurs. Here are five things to do now, to help safeguard your ears and protect your hearing from future damage.

 

  1. Use earplugs at live events

Understandably, the thought of using earplugs to drown out live music at a concert you’ve paid to attend, might seem contradictory but, if it helps protect your hearing, then it’s definitely worth considering. Additionally, some sporting events—especially NASCAR and IndyCar races—produce noise so loud the ground can shake. Literally. And the longer your unprotected ears are exposed, the greater the possibility of negative effects to your hearing. If you’re going to attend, wear earplugs or some kind of noise-reducing gear.

  1. Turn the volume down

Whether you’re in the car or in your home, listening to music or the television, be careful not to turn the volume up too loud. What’s too loud? If, in order to be heard you have to raise your voice, then you need to turn the volume down.

  1. Use the 60:60 rule for headphones

If you’re going to listen to music with headphones, don’t listen at more than 60 percent of maximum for more than 60 minutes a day. And if you turn the volume up when your favorite song comes on, be sure you turn it back down when the song ends. A good rule of thumb when it comes to headphone use: if the person next to you can hear your music, then it’s too loud.

  1. Alter your work environment

If you work in a loud environment, like a restaurant or bar, or operate heavy and often noisy equipment as part of your job, talk to your supervisor about getting noise-reducing earplugs—or ask to have the background music turned down. In the U.S., the Occupational Health and Safety Administration limits workers’ exposure to 90 dBA for an eight-hour workday.

  1. Give your ears a vacation

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders—a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services—advises people give their ears time to recover from exposure to loud noise, especially if they’re experiencing any temporary hearing loss. However, although temporary hearing loss can disappear after 16 to 48 hours, recent research indicates “that although the loss of hearing seems to disappear, there may be residual long-term damage to your hearing.” All the more reason heed these five tips and protect your hearing now, before you experience any type of hearing loss.

 

Coming next month, we’ll explore some of the root causes behind hearing loss and how to identify potential triggers.

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