At some point, many adults realize they’re pressing the “volume up” button on the TV remote more often, or that a lot of people around them need to speak up. There are two common reasons people start to lose their hearing:
Age. As you get older, the tiny hair cells in your inner ears slowly break down and can’t pick up sound vibrations as well as they used to.
Noise. A lot of loud sound over time can damage the hair cells in your ears.
The good news? There are things you can do to prevent noise-induced hearing loss and keep age-related hearing loss from getting worse. Here are eight tips to help keep your ears as sharp as possible.
How loud is too loud? If you have to shout over the noise around you, it's loud enough to damage your hearing. For example, the sounds from motorcycles, concert speakers, power tools like saws and drills, and even earphones are all loud enough to hurt your hearing over time.
2. Be a Quiet Enforcer
Turn down the background noise level in your life by buying appliances and devices that have low noise ratings. If the noise is too loud in the gym, movie theater, restaurant, or any other place you go often, ask the manager to turn it down.
3. Limit Loud Sounds in Your Life
Sometimes you can't avoid the blare of an ambulance siren or the jackhammer on your street corner. But it's best to limit the amount of time you're around them. Noise-induced hearing loss is a result of the loudness of sounds and how long you hear them.
4. Wear Hearing Protection
If you know you're going to be hearing loud sounds for more than a few minutes, think about wearing protection, such as:
Earplugs. Usually made of foam or rubber, earplugs go in your ear canal and can reduce noise by 15 to 30 decibels. You can buy them off-the-shelf or have them custom-made to fit you.
Some ear plugs are designed to reduce noise levels evenly across all frequencies. They’re useful for people who need to make sound quieter but undistorted, such as musicians.
Earmuffs. These fit completely over your ears and reduce sounds by about 15 to 30 decibels. Remember that your earmuffs must fit tightly over both ears to block sound.
You can also wear earplugs and earmuffs together for even greater protection.