LIVING WELL: Turn down the volume and listen up

LIVING WELL: Turn down the volume and listen up

By Joan F. Wright- Posted May. 16, 2015 at 10:12 AM


Given that almost every young person you see today has ear buds stuffed in their ears and connected to a phone or some audio device, it should be no surprise that more than 5 million youth exhibit some degree of hearing loss. (Source: Center for Disease Control - CDC). And while this certainly isn’t your “grandparents’ hearing loss,” it’s not just the kids who are putting themselves at greater risk. Adults of all ages are doing the same with all sorts of personal audio technology. Consequently, the risk of noise-induced hearing loss is greater than ever before.

But it’s not just the audio technology we’re blasting in our ears that’s causing the problems. Working outside with loud equipment (lawnmowers, electric hedge clippers, weed whackers, leaf blowers) for an extended period of time can be just as dangerous. Here’s where we need the earplugs.

Unfortunately, we tend to use the ones connected to our phones and equipment, and there we go again – blasting sound too loud and too close to our eardrums. While we may be somewhat judicious in plugging our ears with cotton balls at rock concerts or indoor sports events, or maybe even at young children’s birthday parties, they are ineffective in protecting hearing.

So what’s best practice in protecting our hearing?

1.      DO use ear plugs when exposed to outside noise, such as concerts, loud parties, venues with live bands. An inexpensive pair can reduce sound by 15 to 30 decibels, lowering it to a still enjoyable but safe level.

2.      DON’T use earbuds at top volume when plugged into music. If your children are using ear buds, establish volume controls with them to ensure they at least know what is safe and what isn’t.

3.      DO keep the volume lower when playing Nintendo, Guitar Hero, and other video games.

4.      DO have your children wear earplugs when playing the drums, electric guitar, or other instruments that “shout.”

Have you heard about the one where you hear better when wearing your glasses? That’s because you may have a hearing loss and you are better able to see the person speaking and “figure out” what he/she is saying. Do you find yourself turning one ear toward a sound to hear it better? How about keeping the television or radio so loud that others comment on the volume? And, have you ever turned on your car and almost blasted yourself out of it with the volume of your radio?