Noise exposure is a leading cause of hearing loss. It usually develops gradually and may go unnoticed until it has progressed to a point where treatment options are limited. There are steps you can take now to prevent hearing loss down the road.
What Are the Causes of Hearing Loss?
Some types of hearing loss are unavoidable. That which occurs with aging (presbycusis) can’t be halted, but regular hearing tests can detect problems early, before they worsen. Noise-induced hearing loss, on the other hand, is usually preventable.
Exposure to excessive noise damages the hair cells of the inner ear, causing permanent hearing loss. Usually this occurs over time, but the noise from a sudden lout gunshot may be enough to cause immediate, irreversible hearing damage. More often, repeated exposure to noise in occupational and recreational settings leads to gradual hearing loss. Sources include machinery, power tools, music concerts, sporting events, firearms, fireworks, motorcycles, boats, and snowmobiles.
What Are the Symptoms of Hearing Loss?
Symptoms of hearing loss include the sensation of speech that appears muffled or distorted, the frequent need to ask others to repeat themselves, listening to the TV or radio at a higher volume level than others find comfortable, tinnitus (a ringing in the ears) and a feeling of fullness in the ears.
How Can I Prevent Hearing Loss?
Protecting your ears is the key to hearing loss prevention. If your job exposes you to hazardous noises, make sure proper safety equipment is provided, and that it meets state and federal regulations. Hearing protection – earplugs and earmuffs – is essential when working around loud equipment. It’s always a good idea to bring along earplugs if you’re participating in a noisy recreational activity (e.g., a football game or rock concert), as well.
At home, limit your exposure to noisy activities, and keep the volume down – on the television, stereo and especially when it comes to personal music players. Prevent other types of hearing loss by refraining from inserting cotton swabs or other objects into your ears, blowing your nose gently through both nostrils and quitting smoking. Studies show those who use tobacco are more likely to suffer from hearing loss.
Regardless of your age, have your hearing tested regularly. Early detection is key. While noise-related hearing loss can’t be reversed, you can still take steps to avoid further damage to your hearing.
Are you a musician looking for hearing protection? Learn more about our custom musician earplug options.
Earplugs offer excellent protection from potential hearing loss. Because ears vary in size and shape, the most effective earplugs will be custom made from molds of your ears. Victory Hearing & Balance offers a variety of custom earplugs designed specifically for different activities.
Swimmer’s plugs protect the ears by preventing water from entering the ear canals. They are made of a waterproof silicone that blocks the opening of the ear canal, providing a tight seal that keeps out water. Swimmer’s plugs are great for swimmers, surfers, rafters and snorkelers, and can be used to keep the ears dry when showering or bathing, as well.
A single gunshot can cause permanent, irreversible hearing loss. The typical decibel rating is 140 dB – louder than a jet engine (120 dB). Specially designed hunter’s earplugs utilize acoustic filters that amplify ambient noise, allowing the user to hear their surroundings better; when the weapon is fired, these filters soften the sound to protect hearing. They include a valve that closes automatically when struck by a sound wave, limiting the volume that reaches the ear.
Hunter’s plugs are available in styles that fit in the ear or behind the ear.
Call Victory Hearing & Balance at (512) 428-8355 for more information or to schedule an appointment.