fb_thumb
Carol Fenwick, M.Ed., CCC-SP | Article

Protect Your Hearing!

9/28/2016
Everyday most of us use the ability to speak. But what if we couldn’t hear? Good hearing keeps us from missing out on conversations with friends and loved ones. We can hear the TV, radio, go to plays and musicals and understand the words spoken. We can hear our boss, our coworkers, our clients, our customers and our employees. It’s difficult to fully communicate with others if you cannot hear them..
This is a brief description on how we hear and how we can protect our hearing. As we age, our hearing may not be what it was when we were younger. However, there are things we can do to prevent hearing loss in your children and yourself.

Loud Noises can damage your hearing.
One of the most common effects of loud noise is a permanent hearing loss.
How do we hear? Sound waves travel into the ear canal until they reach the eardrum. The eardrum passes the vibrations through the idle ear bones into the inner ear or cochlea. There are thousands of tiny hair cells in the cochlea. Hair cells change the vibrations into electrical signals that are sent to the brain through the hearing nerve. The brain tells you that you are hearing a sound and what that sound is.
Intense brief noises like a firecracker or an explosion or gunshot can damage hair cells as can continuous, repeated exposure to high levels of noise. Only healthy hair cells can send electrical impulses to the brain. It is in the brain that the sound is understood and interpreted. Hair cells damaged by loud sound cannot send the impulse to the brain for interpretation.

Once the Hair cells are damaged, there is no proven treatment to repair them. However, there are recent reports of a drug given to deaf mice that encourages regrowth of damaged cochlear hair cells.
OSHA rules regarding decibel limits: Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules state that a noise level of 85 dB over an 8 hour workday is potentially damaging. The louder the noise, the faster the damage. Sound intensity doubles every 3 dB. So with each 3 dB increase in sound level, potential damage to the ear doubles. When considering sounds that can damage hearing, remember one thing: What matters is the energy of the sound reaching the ear, not its source. In other words, it makes no difference whether the sound is made by a bulldozer or an orchestra.

How else can loud noise be harmful? Loud noise can increase fatigue and cause irritability. Nose can reduce the ability to pay attention to tasks and can reduce productivity. Which is why some workers become annoyed with noisy work colleagues.

A common effect of loud sound is tinnitus or ringing in the ears. If you go to a loud concert, you may notice ringing or buzzing in the ears. This can continue for a few hours after the fact. It’s like having constant white noise in the background

What can you do to protect your hearing? You should always wear hearing protection when engaged in noisy activities.

Walk away from loud sounds. Protect the ears of young children
Turn the noise level down. Make others aware of noise hazards.
Wear protective devices when involved in a loud activity.

If you can hear an iPod playing from another person’s earbuds, that person has the volume up too loud and could be damaging their hearing. Tell them to pump the volume down!

Block noise by wearing earplugs or other hearing protection when involved in loud activities. Hearos (noise reduction earplugs) can be ordered online or are available at drugstores.
If you suspect a hearing loss, have a hearing test by an audiologist who is a health professional trained to measure and help individuals deal with hearing loss.

--Carol Fenwick, M.Ed., CCC-SP