Even though most people associate hearing loss with old age, the most common period for the onset of hearing loss is between the ages of 19 and 44. Men experience hearing loss at a rate much higher than women, often due to having hobbies or jobs that involve louder equipment. An audiologist in Anchorage, for example, is likely to see men who go snowmobiling or use power tools without ear protection.
Many people don’t think about hearing loss until they start noticing a change. Just as dermatologists encourage people to protect their skin from the sun before it’s damaged, audiologists always remind their patients—especially men—to be vigilant in protecting their hearing.
In this blog post, I’ll discuss ways to reduce the risk of hearing loss and how to gauge if your environment is too loud. Three general practices should be followed to prevent (or at least delay) hearing loss:
- Turn it Down: People tend to listen to music and television shows at excessive volumes.
- Walk Away: If you’re in a loud environment, try to put more distance between yourself and the source of the noise.
- Protect Your Ears: If you know you’re going to encounter excessive noise, use foam earplugs, earmuffs, or custom hearing protection to avoid longer-lasting damage to your ears.
These may seem like common sense steps (they are!), but it’s often easy to either forget to do this or believe that the noise is temporary or not really that loud. The analogy to sun protection works well here, too. People tend to not use sunscreen, for example, unless they’re sunbathing. But day-to-day exposure can cause just as much damage.
Besides the general guidelines listed above, there are specific ways that anyone can help reduce the chances of experiencing hearing loss as young adults. These include:
- Limit the amount of time you’re exposed to noise. If you’re constantly listing to music during the day using earbuds, remember to take breaks. And, again, reduce the volume. Even listening to loud music on earbuds for 5 minutes a day can increase the risk of hearing loss.
- Use earplugs when you expect loud noise. If you’re going to mow the lawn, cut wood, or attend a loud concert, use custom-sized foam earplugs.
- Make sure you have access to earplugs if you have a noisy job. Working day in and day out in a noisy environment is one of the most common reasons people experience early hearing loss. Even if the noise doesn’t seem especially loud, the daily exposure is harmful to hearing.
It’s sometimes difficult to tell if you’re in an environment that’s noisy enough to contribute to hearing loss. One way to know is if it’s difficult to hear someone talking in a normal voice who’s within 3 feet. Additionally, if your ears are ringing or uncomfortable after being in a loud environment, you should wear foam earplugs the next time you’re in that same environment.
If you suspect you have hearing loss, it’s important to see a licensed audiologist for an exam. As a hearing instrument dispenser, I work with our skilled audiologists to find the right hearing aids for our patients with hearing loss in Anchorage. You can contact us using the online form to request a consultation with one of our specialists or call us at (907) 279-8800 to schedule an appointment.