Most people know May as the month we celebrate Mother’s Day and welcome Spring; well Speech Language Pathologists recognize May as Better Hearing and Speech month. This month is used to raise awareness about loss of hearing and solutions to prevent it.
Recent studies have shown that 12.5 percent of young children have already been affected by hearing loss. According to experts, adolescents and teens are a high-risk demographic. Unfortunately, hearing loss is not a condition that can be simply controlled by a pill, but there are steps we can take to maintain good hearing through treatment and prevention. Below, we’ve provided six tips for better hearing, so grab those q-tips, a pen and paper and take note!
- Avoid loud noises: This sounds like a no brainer, right? However, there are plenty of everyday instances where we expose ourselves to loud noises and don’t even realize it. For instance, driving in traffic with the windows down or sitting too close to speakers at a loud concert. Up to 50 percent of all natural hearing loss cases could have been prevented or reduced by limiting exposure to noise, according to recent studies.
- Wear protection: When exposed to noises over 85 dB; when using lawn mowers and power tools for instance, wear earplugs or earmuffs.
- Set the volume: Home and car stereo systems and personal stereo systems can reach ear-damaging levels of 110 dB. Headphones are especially risky, and Health Canada warns that sounds levels can reach dangerous levels (especially with tight-fitting ear buds.)
In addition to moderating listening time and reducing competing background noise, experts recommend putting limits on the volume. Check your devices to see if they have features to set the maximum volume. Alternatively, get out a pen and mark the maximum level on your stereo. Ideally, you should be able to hear someone speaking to you in a normal voice from a meter away.
- Give them a rest: Like an injury that needs protection from another blow, we should protect our ears from further damage. If you’ve been exposed to potentially damaging sound levels (like a sudden noise or a rock concert) you should give your ears a break for a while.Be extra careful to avoid loud noises and wear protection, particularly if you’re experiencing a buzzing or ringing in the ears. If you’re around constant noise, give your ears a break for a few minutes throughout the day.
- Avoid loud toys: A gift-shopping tip for the youngsters in your life: avoid items that make loud sounds. According to Health Canada, toys can’t exceed 100 dB, but young children often hold toys close to their heads.
- Watch for the signs:
Often times, hearing becomes impaired over time. It is very rare for one to lose hearing over night, unless they’ve experienced serious trauma. With that being said, knowing the signs can help you find a solution and preserve your hearing before it’s too late.
Some of the signs of hearing loss include:
– Trouble following conversations, especially in noisy situations or over the phone. It may sound like people are mumbling, and women and children may be harder to hear.
– Asking others to repeat something, or misinterpreting something that is said.
– Turning up the volume on the TV or radio.
– Feeling tired or irritable after long conversations.
– Appearing distracted or withdrawn in social situations.