Protect your hearing

Hearing is a precious gift. Taking proper care of your ears and protecting your hearing is an easy but a lifelong task that can help minimize your chances of developing hearing loss. 

Tips on protecting hearing

 

Wear earplugs whenever your surroundings are so loud that you must raise your voice to be heard. 
It does not matter what the source of the loud sounds is – music, machinery, conversation or other noisy environments.  Extremely loud noises can cause permanent damage to the tiny hair cells inside the cochlea. Even moderately loud noise over a period of time can be damaging. Earplugs can reduce the sounds 15 to 35 decibels.

 

Turn down the volume
Never listen to loud music. If the volume is uncomfortable for you to listen, then it is probably already too loud. If you can hear the music homing from someone’s headphones or ear buds, it is probably too loud too. If you are at a concert, try to stand back from the loud speakers or wear earplugs. They won’t block the music but will reduce the decibels, making it safer to listen.

 
Choose noise-cancelling headphones over ear buds
When you use noise-cancelling headphones, you do not need to turn the volume up to block the background noise. The sound enters the ear canal in a more natural disperse way which is less damaging to the ears. 

 

Use the 60/60 rule
Sound at 85 dB or below is considered safe, but most ear buds or headphones can produce sounds up to 120 dB. Even a 15-minute long exposure to a loud sound can result in permanent damage to ears. When you listen to music, use the 60/60 rule: keep the volume at 60 percent maximum and listen to music for no longer than 60 minutes at a time.

 
Turn the music down when in the car
When we hear a favorite song, the first thing we do is turn the volume up. The speakers in the car can be very powerful these days and can amplify the sound tremendously. When you are in the car in a confined environment, remember to keep the volume down. 

 

Say no to cotton swabs
If you use cotton swabs to clean your ears, stop it immediately. A cotton swab can push the wax in farther, and you can also potentially damage the ear drum. 

 

 Give your ears some rest
If you have been exposed to loud music, give your ears time to recover. In fact, studies show your ears need about 16 hours of rest after being exposed to several hours of 100dB or higher sound, for example at a concert. Reducing this recovery time may increase the risk of permanent damage to your ears. 

 

Just how loud is loud?

Sound is measured in decibels. Decibel levels begin at zero, comparable to sounds of moving leaves. A whisper is 30 decibels and normal conversational speech is about 60 decibels. However, since decibels use a logarithmic scale, an incremental increase in decibels produces an enormous increase in loudness - an increase of 10 decibels means that a sound is 10 times more powerful. Studies show that prolonged exposure to sounds at or above 85dB can damage hearing. The louder the sound, the shorter the amount of time it takes for possible hearing loss to occur. For example, firecrackers can reach 150 decibels and will cause hearing damage much more quickly than exposure to a power lawn mower at 90 decibels.

The chart graphically illustrates some common noises and their respective dB levels.
The chart graphically illustrates some common noises and their respective dB levels. 

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Tips to protect your hearing

Hearing is a precious gift. Taking proper care of your ears and protecting your hearing is an easy but a lifelong task that can help minimize your chances of developing hearing loss.
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