Five Tips for Better Hearing

May 2, 2011 Kristiina Huckabay, AuD, FAAA

Did you know that portable music players produce sound at up to 100 decibels? That’s approaching the level of a jet plane taking off, which measures 120 decibels. Any volumes higher than 85 decibels can cause hearing loss if listened to for prolonged periods of time.

May is Better Hearing Month, celebrated by the American Academy of Audiology. It’s a great time to assess the health of your hearing, and recognize its importance in daily life.

Small changes in day-to-day activities can go a long way in maintaining good hearing in the future:

  1. Turn down the volume. TVs, stereos and headphones should be kept at a reasonable listening volume. If the person next to you can hear the music from your headphones, you may be putting your ears at risk for hearing loss.
  2. Give your ears a break if you work in a noisy setting. Take time during each day to seek out a quiet environment. It’s not just the volume of the sound that can cause hearing loss; the duration of the noise exposure can also be harmful.
  3. Protect yourself. Wear earplugs or earmuffs when participating in loud activities, such as going to concerts, using power tools or even mowing the lawn.
  4. Don’t clean your ears with cotton swabs, or other similar objects. Sticking small objects into your ear canal can cause wax to build up and block sound. Your primary care physician can determine if you have a cerumen (ear wax) problem during your annual visit.
  5. Get your hearing checked. The Audiology clinic at Swedish Otolaryngology Specialists can evaluate your hearing, and help you with necessary steps to protect or enhance your hearing.
    • To protect your hearing: Custom hearing protection for music or general noise reduction can be created to fit your ears.
    • To enhance your hearing: If a hearing loss warrants amplification, an appointment can be scheduled to discuss appropriate technology options and styles that exist today. Amplification in the 21st century is not the same as your grandmother’s hearing aids!

For additional resources, check out the American Academy of Audiology or American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

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