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Healthy You

Enjoy the Music, Skip the Hearing Loss

Friday, November 02, 2012 10:41 AM

Our ears are sensitive – a single loud blast (such as a gunshot or explosion) or repetitive exposure to loud noises can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss. It’s important to learn what sound levels are healthy to reduce the impact on your hearing. While there’s an ongoing debate about the harm of frequent use of MP3 players, the effect on one’s hearing is still unknown.

That said, there are some things you can do to help prevent hearing loss. The Otolaryngology care team at NorthShore provides insight on protecting your hearing:

  • Most people generally listen to personal music players at an acceptable volume. However, a good rule of thumb is this: If you can hear what song someone is listening to on their headphones, chances are it’s too loud.
  • If you enjoy live music and concerts, a good option for limiting damage to your inner ear is to purchase foam and/or custom-made earplugs. Custom-made earplugs will lower the volume without distorting the sound.
  • Hearing loss may take years to show up, so it’s very important to adopt good habits and protect your ears earlier than later.
  • If you are exposed to sound levels over 85 decibels at work, you must be offered hearing protection and regular testing to prevent hearing damage. This is according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines.

What do you do to protect your hearing? Have you ever noticed a change in your hearing from being exposed to a loud sound (blast or music)?