Noise Pollution: How to protect your hearing?
Noise pollution levels are at an all time high and it is estimated that by 2015, 1.1 billion people will be affected. Audiologist, G. Krishnakumar shares with us few tips on how to protect your hearing
Noise is part of everyday life, but loud noise can permanently damage your hearing. On a day to day life conversation becomes difficult or impossible; your family complains about the television being too loud and you have trouble using the telephone. Permanent tinnitus (ringing in the ears) can also be caused. The damage can be instant, for very loud or explosive noises, but generally it is gradual. By the time you notice it, it is probably too late. Second only to aging, exposure to loud noise is the most common cause of hearing loss.
Today every sixth person worldwide has hearing loss of varying degree. By 2015 an estimated 1.1 billion people will be affected and studies have revealed that 37% of people are below retirement age. The rest majority are either at school age or in the work force where ability to understand and communicate is crucial is important. Audiologist and Director at Rajan Speech and Hearing Centre, G. Krishnakumar shares with us few tips on how to protect your hearing.
What causes hearing loss?
When noise is too loud, it begins to kill the nerve endings in the inner ear. Prolonged exposure to loud noise destroys nerve endings. As the number of nerve endings decreases, so does your hearing. There is no way to restore life to dead nerve endings; the damage is permanent.
How can I protect myself against noise?
1. One of the most important things you can do is to protect your ears from excessive noise levels, particularly over long periods of time.
2. Wear hearing protectors, especially if you must work in an excessively noisy environment. You should also wear them when using power tools, noisy yard equipment, or firearms, or riding a motorcycle. Hearing protectors come in two forms: earplugs and earmuffs.
• Earplugs are small inserts that fit into the outer ear canal. They must be sealed snugly so the entire circumference of the ear canal is blocked.
• Earmuffs fit over the entire outer ear to form an airtight seal so the entire circumference of the ear canal is blocked, and they are held in place by an adjustable band.
3. If loud music or noise ever causes discomfort or pain in your ears, you should use ear plugs, take regular breaks from it, turn down the sound or leave immediately. A handy rule of thumb is that if you can't talk to someone 2 metres away without shouting, the noise level could be damaging.
4. Damage to your ears caused by water can be avoided or minimized by remembering a few simple rules. Try to avoid unnecessary submersion under water such as when bathing, showering or swimming. If you are a regular diver or a professional sports person, remember to descend and ascend steadily so your ears have time to adjust to the changes in pressure.
5. Ears are, on the whole, self- cleaning and do not require any assistance in removing wax. Wax should be naturally excreted from your ears. Leave ear wax alone, it helps to keep your ears healthy. Cleaning your ears with cotton buds or using over-the-counter ear drops can damage your ears.
6. Don't listen to your personal music player at very high volumes - if the music is uncomfortable for you to listen to then it's too loud, or if you can't hear external sounds when you've got your headphones on, again, it's probably too loud.
7. Many people get pain in their ears when they take a flight. One of the best ways to help with that process is either chewing on a piece of gum or sucking on any type of candy, which activates the muscle that opens the Eustachian tube. Yawning is even better since it's a strong activator of that muscle.