While you may not associate summer fun with hearing loss, many sounds we encounter during summertime activities have the potential to damage our hearing. For weekend warriors, powering up the lawn mower or chainsaw means an increased risk of hearing loss.
According to the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA), the average level of a power lawnmower is 95 dB and a chainsaw is 100 dB. If you enjoy summer concerts outdoors, keep in mind that they can get as loud as 110 dB - loud enough to cause hearing damage in as little as 30 minutes.
Fortunately, you can help prevent hearing loss by using hearing protection whenever you'll be exposed to loud noises. There are all kinds of hearing protection devices available, from afforable foam ear plugs to custom-fitted hearing protection designed for musicians.
Let's start at the most basic tool for hearing protection - the foam ear plug. Visit your local pharmacy and pick up a pair of moldable foam ear plugs. They are inexpensive, but their value is incalculable when it comes to protecting the ears.
They are also small, light-weight, and fit easily into any pocket. The upside to this kind of protection is cost - only a few dollars for a package. The downside? They block out all sound – even the sounds you want to hear, such as the conversations of those around you. Furthermore, if not inserted properly, they may not protect adequately.
So, move up the price ladder and consider ear muffs for hearing protection. Put these on each time you fire up the chain saw, lawn mower, or other gas-powered yard equipment. They offer comfort and adequate protection, no matter your ear size or shape.
Parents can protect their children's hearing from loud, noisy environments at home or while traveling by making hearing protection part of any busy family routine.
For serious concert-goers and musicians, consider custom hearing protection such as custom-made musician earplugs, made to fit your ears precisely with specialized filters that will not distort the quality of the music. You can also choose the level of noise reduction you require. Visit a local hearing center to have impressions made of your ears and order these custom ear plugs.
For a lower cost option that still helps preserve the sound quality of your music, check out high-fidelity non-custom earplugs, such as these from Etymotic.
They reduce most noise to safe levels while preserving the clarity of speech and the richness of music. ETY•Plugs are configured to replicate the natural response of the ear canal so that when sound enters the earplug, it is reproduced unchanged, exactly the same as the ear would hear it, only quieter.
For those with earbuds in their ears constantly, consider the purchase of hearing protection headphones, such as noise-cancellation headphones that come in on-the-ear and over-the-ear varieties.
These headphones reduce the potential for hearing loss by reducing the environmental noise around you- you won’t have to turn your music up quite as loud in order to hear it. This not only improves listening quality, but also reduces the likelihood that you will listen to your music at dangerous levels.
Noise induced hearing loss is preventable by simply wearing hearing protection. You may not notice immediate damage; but remember that exposure is cumulative through the years - so start protecting your hearing now.