Avoid these New Year's noisemakers
As the giant sparkly ball slowly sets on another year, people around the world are readying themselves for the rambunctious farewell parties that celebrate the old and mark the start of a new year. But keep your hearing in mind as you ring in 2015 with all the noisemakers, music and cheers this New Year’s Eve. No matter where you’re headed this year, or how you plan to celebrate, pay heed to your surroundings and how they could damage your hearing. Or, if you already have hearing loss, be on the lookout for hearing loss friendly venues and events that could make your evening a little less chaotic and a lot more enjoyable.
Hearing aid check
As always, give your hearing aid a good look before you head out into the wintry night. Test the batteries, check to see if they need cleaning, and, if you have one, put a hearing aid sock over each one to protect it from the cold. Cold temperatures and snow can do a number on the hearing aids’ delicate mechanisms and a simple layer of cloth is a powerful protectant against cold and moisture. If you don’t have a hearing aid sock, wear a hat or ear muffs that cover your ears.
If you’re planning on attending a public event such as a downtown ball drop, it could be a good idea to take a pair of earplugs with you. Concerts, fireworks and the general hullabaloo are all capable of reaching decibel levels above those that are considered safe for exposure. If you’re around any speakers, move far enough away so that whoever is on the microphone can’t wreak any havoc on your eardrums. Remember: anything above 85 decibels is potentially harmful. Unsure of what 85 decibels sound like? Download a free sound meter app on your smartphone and you’ll always be able to check.
Open places, tight spaces
General chatter has the potential to interfere in the communication between you and your family and friends, regardless of whether you have hearing loss. If you do have hearing loss, the background noise can be especially distracting, and the extra concentration required to hear your companions properly can easily wear you out. If you can, find a quieter area on the outskirts of the crowd to ease the mental strain.
Protect your children’s ears
Never forget about your little ones! If it’s too loud for you, then it’s definitely too loud for them. Children’s earplugs are readily available and they’re convenient because of the smaller size. Children’s ears are more sensitive than adult ears and hearing loss has a more profound effect on them because it can have a major impact on their cognitive development. When in doubt, move your kids to a quieter spot in the crowd or break out those earplugs.
Studies have shown that prolonged drinking has the potential to damage your hearing. While a few drinks on one night such as New Year’s might not have a lasting effect, you should be aware of your overall alcohol consumption throughout the year. Researchers have concluded that excessive alcohol can damage the auditory nerve in the brain; while your ears may be functioning perfectly, your brain has lost the capacity to recognize and process the sounds you’re hearing.
New Year’s is a wonderful time to spend with family and friends, and hearing loss doesn’t have to come between you and the start of the new year. Have a great night this New Year’s and don’t forget to raise a glass to having a healthy set of ears for many years to come.