Sound Advice: Tips for Protecting Your Hearing

By MJ DeSousa On November 20, 2012 @ 10:07 pm In Other Ways of Healing | No Comments

A man listens to music while jogging. Using noise-reduction headphones that dampen outside sound will allow you to keep the volume low and help to protect your hearing. (Stockbyte/Photos.com)

A man listens to music while jogging. Using noise-reduction headphones that dampen outside sound will allow you to keep the volume low and help to protect your hearing. (Stockbyte/Photos.com)

Studies show that Canadians face hearing loss at younger and younger ages. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. More than ever, we are confronted with excessive noise.

Urban development has led to non-stop construction in our major cities, our suburbs, and on our roads.

Our commutes are noisy, our work and home environments are often filled with outbursts of sound from entertainment devices or neighbourhood development projects, and our hobbies and activities tend to put us in environments where silence is definitely not included.

A generation ago, print media—books, newspapers, magazines—enjoyed much more attention from us than they do now.

Today, the media we consume are more dependent on sound than ever.

With audiobooks and increased video reporting from news sources, our ears are being used constantly and that puts them under greater stress than ever before. The use of headphones with our array of new devices is convenient, but it’s a practice that also puts our hearing in more danger, too.

Hearing loss affects more than 10 percent of Canadians and much of that is due to noise damage.

While the excessive noise in our society is troubling, there are ways we can protect our hearing.

The most effective thing you can do to protect yourself from noise-induced hearing loss, or to treat any noise damage that has already occurred, is to begin by consulting a hearing-health professional. Your hearing will be tested and treatment options may be discussed.

Quality of Life

You may be advised to simply be more diligent about wearing and carrying earplugs. Putting those plugs in on your walk to work will keep you protected should you pass construction sites, where noise levels can reach well above 100 decibels, or encounter the piercing sound of a siren.

Using noise-reduction headphones that dampen outside sound, allowing you to keep the volume low, is also advice you may receive from an audiologist or hearing-health practitioner.

Phonak nano is a tiny hearing aid for mild to moderate hearing loss. It is custom-crafted to fit entirely in the ear canal, using computer-aided design and the latest generation of advanced materials. (Connect Hearing/Phonak)

Phonak nano is a tiny hearing aid for mild to moderate hearing loss. It is custom-crafted to fit entirely in the ear canal, using computer-aided design and the latest generation of advanced materials. (Connect Hearing/Phonak)

Those with more advanced hearing issues may be prescribed hearing aids to improve communication and hearing and be advised on how to prevent further damage.

What surprises many of the clients I deal with is the quality and stylishness of hearing aids available. These devices have gone through an evolutionary transformation in every way.

Decades ago, they were large, clunky, obtrusive, and ugly. Now, they’re lightweight, easy to use, and far from being an eyesore.

In fact, many of the new models are so visually appealing—with sleek finishes and sophisticated designs—that they wouldn’t look out of place in an audio equipment store stocked next to cutting-edge gadgets.

Best of all, though, are the improvements in sound processing and sound quality these devices can deliver to their owner. Many people wearing these devices enjoy a better quality of life as a result of these benefits. In fact, it is an amazing gift to be able to enjoy sounds you love to hear but were starting to miss.

Staying Connected

Hearing is a sense many of us take for granted until it begins to slip away. As much as our eyes, our ears allow us to stay connected to the people, activities, and sounds we love.

Protecting our hearing isn’t difficult, but it cannot be done until we take the first steps necessary to prevent hearing loss.

Hearing loss affects more than 10 percent of Canadians and much of that is due to noise damage.

Here’s another alarming statistic—the average person with hearing loss waits about seven years to do something about it, and waiting that long only makes it harder to succeed with hearing aids.

Educating the public that hearing loss isn’t only an ailment that equates to old age is one of the goals of the hearing-health industry.

By understanding the signals your body is giving you and heeding the advice of your loved ones and health-care providers and taking action early, you can guarantee that hearing loss won’t negatively impact the quality of your life.

As it turns out, the greatest defence against hearing loss is, fittingly, a willingness to listen.

MJ DeSousa, an audiologist and director of professional practice at Connect Hearing, leads a team of hearing professionals across Canada. Her Ask MJ video series answers questions about hearing health: www.connecthearing.ca/askmj.php

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