Listen up! October is National Protect Your Hearing Month

October 6, 2022 Swedish Audiology
[4 min read]
In this article: 
  • To mark National Protect Your Hearing Month, Swedish Audiology experts explain the dangers of noise exposure. 
  • According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40 million Americans have noise-induced hearing loss. 
  • You can protect your hearing by lowering the volume, moving away from loud noise and, when necessary, wearing hearing protection. 
We live in a noisy world.  Everyday noises like the sounds of machinery, some home appliances, sirens and music can damage our hearing if we’re exposed to them for too long at high volumes.
Trouble with hearing is the third most commonly reported chronic health condition in the United States. Studies have shown that untreated hearing loss is associated with anxiety, depression, loneliness and stress. In addition to hearing loss, chronic nose exposure has been associated with worsening of heart disease, increased blood pressure and other adverse health effects. 
But we can protect ourselves and our hearing by taking some basic precautions like moving away from the source of loud sounds, wearing hearing protection and lowering the volume on our audio devices when engaging in activities like listening to music, watching movies or gaming. For October’s National Protect Your Hearing Month, we talked with experts at Swedish Audiology to learn more about noise, hearing protection and how to avoid noise-induced hearing loss

What is noise-induced hearing loss?

We are exposed to a variety of different sounds daily. Many of these sounds and noises do not cause harm unless coming in at a loud level. There is a common misconception that past loud noise exposures do not cause any harm later in life. A one-time sudden loud sound can cause irreversible hearing loss. Additionally, the impact of loud sounds has a cumulative effect on your hearing over your lifetime. The hearing loss caused by noise exposure is permanent and cannot be reversed. 
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, some 40 million Americans have noise induced hearing loss, with about 24 percent of people ages 20-69 who report having  excellent hearing actually having damaged hearing due to loud noises exposure. A 2020 study found that 1 in every 6-8 middle and high school students aged 12-19 years has measurable hearing loss likely resulting from excessive noise exposure.    

When is loud too loud? 

Three factors decide whether the sound is dangerously loud: overall volume or loudness, exposure time, and distance from the source of the sound. You can now if a sound is too loud if: 
  • You have to shout over background noise to be heard. 
  • The noise is painful to your ears. 
  • The noise makes your ears ring. 
  • You have decreased or muffled hearing for several hours after exposure.


How can we protect our hearing? 

Lower the volume. Manufacturers for mobile and entertainment devices do not have regulations on the output of the sound. However, many mobile devices have in-built features to monitor loudness levels. 
Move away from the noise. Do not sit or stand close to a speaker at concerts or other events. 
Wear hearing protectors. These include earplugs or earmuffs. There is a variety of hearing protection devices including custom made earplugs available. Use appropriate hearing protection for when being exposed to loud sounds. 
What role can an audiologist play in helping me protect my hearing? 
Audiologists identify, diagnose and provide treatment options for hearing loss and dizziness. They also provide appropriate hearing protection devices, including custom earplugs for various loud sounds. It is important to see an audiologist when experiencing hearing loss or considering appropriate hearing protection devices. 
Learn more and find a provider 
Think you may be experiencing some hearing loss? See a Swedish audiologist for an evaluation if your hearing has changed. If you are exposed to loud noise regularly, get an annual hearing checkup. Learn about hearing services at Swedish or call 1-800-793-3474 for an appointment.
Swedish Virtual Care connects you face-to-face with a nurse practitioner who can review your symptoms, provide instructions and follow up as needed. If you need to find a doctor, you can use our provider directory.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.
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