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Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Prevention

There are different kinds of hearing loss. Some people have hearing loss from birth, others it happens over time. Here are some of the hearing loss types:
  • Conductive hearing loss - where the middle ear cannot conduct sound properly
  • Sensorineural hearing loss - where the hair cells of the cochlea are missing or damaged
  • Mixed hearing loss - where there is a combination of the two of the above
  • Neural hearing loss - where the auditory nerve is missing or damaged
  • Noise-Induced hearing loss - where loud noise over time destroys the hair cells in the auditory pathway.

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Prevention

NIHL

Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by damage to the small structures, called hair cells in the inner ear. These hair cells convert the noise and sound that we hear and turn them into potentials. They then travel down the auditory pathway and into the brain. Any hair cells that have been damaged from noise exposure will not grow back and will lead to sensorineural hearing loss.


Prevention

When you think you have hearing loss happening the most important for you to do is head to the doctor and ask for a referral to get checked out. Click here for more information about steps you should take if you suspect your hearing is in decline.

Take stock of your environment. If you work in a space where there is a lot of noise, then make sure that you are using ear protection. There are some jobs where loud noises are par for the course like firefighters, motorcyclists, military, factory workers, and construction workers.

There are some basic rules when it comes to protecting your hearing:
  • Turn it down
  • Walk away
  • Wearing ear protection

Levels

If you often have headphones on, then you should implement a new rule. Only have your headphones at 60% volume for 60 minutes. This will mean that you are less likely to cause damage to the hair cells with a continually loud noise. You should make this a rule for everyone in your household.


Resting

If you do have a particularly loud job, you are probably going to want to rest your ears afterward. Much like any part of your body, the more strain it is under, the more recovery time it will need. Even with just a few hours of live music, you should rest your ears for somewhere in the region of 16 hours.


Dry

Sometimes your inner ear gets wet. This means that water can get trapped in the crevices of your ear canals. It is uncomfortable, but many people leave it in hopes that it will naturally resolve itself. Most of the time, that is true. However, the water will allow bacteria to creep into the ear canal and will lead to an infection. After a swim or a bath where you submerge your head, try to dry as much of your ear as you can. After that, if there is still water trapped, then tilt your head to the side and gently tug on your earlobe. This will help release the trapped fluid. While your ear is feeling slightly blocked, you might be tempted to turn the volume up. Avoid this, as you may suffer damage.

Consider your hearing one of the most important things you can take care of.

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Health Magazine: Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Prevention
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Prevention
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Health Magazine
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