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- Be Intentional to Create Healthy Hearing Habits - August 2, 2023
Very, very rarely hearing loss is the spontaneous outcome of a tragic accident. But the vast majority of those who live with hearing loss do so thanks to prolonged exposure to dangerously loud volumes without taking appropriate precautions.
This could happen thanks to how you make your living. Some industries like mining, agriculture, manufacturing, and nightlife are notoriously risky. Or it could happen thanks to your preferred recreational activities. Regularly attending loud sporting events or concerts, playing loud video games and even regularly attending loud exercise classes are all examples of common risks that many people assume are harmless. And even the noise pollution inherent to many urban and suburban environments take a cumulative toll.
All of these examples have regulations and guidelines that are supposed to be followed to guarantee the hearing health of the participants. But ultimately it is up to you to take responsibility to guarantee the preservation of your own hearing health.
When people downplay or even outright ignore their hearing loss, it most often creates damage in every aspect of your life. There is the immediate physical risk due to the diminished awareness of your environment, the delay recognizing an alarm or siren for example. And this risk is compounded by the disorientation that hearing loss causes to your senses of balance and spatial orientation. Many people who suffer from hearing loss feel compelled to withdraw socially before they even recognize that they are doing so understand that they are doing so because their hearing loss makes it suddenly fatiguing to socialize. Such withdrawal creates feelings of isolation, loneliness, and depression. And depression can become a self-perpetuating cycle. Its increasing intensity may eventually lead to psychological and even cognitive troubles.
Without appropriate treatment, the damage that hearing loss will cause in your personal and professional lives will strengthen the spiral. If the hearing loss could have been prevented it would have saved so much trouble. And the way to do that is to commit to taking the initiative to adopt healthy hearing habits.
Form Healthy Habits Now
Many people are surprised to learn that over 13% of all American adults suffer from some detectable degree of hearing loss. The stereotype is of course of senior citizens dealing with it. And it is true that they have the highest rates. But pediatric audiologists are also finding more children with worse hearing than ever before and the causes are surprising.
It is paradoxical compared to our assumptions about childhood, but unlike the common exposures that adults contend with, children frequently have more control over the exposures that present their greatest risks. It is the volume of their earbuds and headphones.
Cranking the volume on your headphones is rarely a conscious decision. The entire point and draw of most popular entertainment is the escape it offers into an alternate reality. So of course we instinctively feel the urge to intensify that experience. Increasing the volume on a video game or a movie or a concert heightens the experience, making it more immersive. But there are consequences to normalizing increased volumes.
An iPhone’s volume peaks at 102 dB, the same volume as a leaf blower. Listening to anything at this volume is safe for 10 minutes. Beyond 10 minutes, this volume will damage your hearing.
But you are unlikely to notice this damage in the immediate. Eventually you will notice the compounded damage of unhealthy habits.
Remember that decibels are not measured in a linear fashion. Sticking with the iPhone example, it is 82 dB when played at 70% volume. That level is safe to listen to for eight hours a day. but increase that volume just 10%, up to 80%, and that is 89 dB. Ninety minutes exposure time 89 dB is enough to risk permeant damage to your hearing.
Ultimately the most important habit to adopt is vigilant awareness. In every situation, whatever the source of the sound, an increased volume always correlates with a reduction of safe exposure times. Forming intentional healthy habits today and taking them seriously will save you a lot of trouble in many aspects of your life, and probably sooner than you think. Make an appointment with one of our specialists today to learn more.