Hearing loss affects thousands of people across New Zealand. Although hearing aids are becoming smaller and more technologically advanced, the best way to enjoy years of good hearing is simply through early prevention.
Warning signs of hearing loss
Hearing loss comes in many shapes and forms. Tinnitus – a constant noise heard within the inner ears – is one of the most common symptoms of hearing loss. Tinnitus may present itself as a high-pitched ringing, a buzzing noise, or a whooshing sound, like waves. Other warning signs of hearing loss include not being able to understand conversations in social settings or on the phone, and feeling as though people are mumbling.
Here are some precautions you can take on a daily basis to help protect your hearing
If your work environment involves exposure to loud noises, make sure that you have appropriate protective equipment on hand. If you work with loud appliances, tools or machinery, consider wearing protective earmuffs to reduce your chances of developing hearing loss.
There are many sources of noise in the home that can be damaging to your hearing. For example, prolonged exposure to loud noises while vacuuming or mowing the lawn can increase your chances of developing tinnitus and other hearing loss-related issues. Be sure to wear earplugs, earmuffs, or noise-cancelling headphones while undertaking loud activities.
Other household activities such as listening to music or watching television can also have harmful effects on your hearing. Make sure you’re playing music or watching television at a safe volume; you can purchase a sound level meter to measure these volumes to be sure. If a household activity involves more than 70 decibels of noise, it’s a good idea to turn down the volume if possible, or wear earplugs while doing it.
Many people use cotton swabs to clean out their ears, however, this can end up causing more harm than good. There are plenty of safe alternatives on the market to help clean your ears without damaging the ear canal. That said, the safest and most effective way to clean your ears is to wash them with soap and water in the shower, and then to wrap a towel around your finger to mop up the excess water.
Out and About
Movies, concerts and music festivals are all unforgettable experiences, but these events often expose attendees to harmful noise levels. If you’re attending a potentially noisy event, prepare accordingly by bringing earplugs to reduce your chances of developing hearing loss in future.
Remember, precautions and prevention are the best ways to look after your hearing. Be aware of the noises in your environment, and always carry earplugs if you’re going to be in loud environments. Most importantly, if you think something is wrong, contact a hearing health professional and get your hearing checked.