Do you have a few noisy hobbies? You might be surprised to learn that your favorite pastimes could be harming your hearing. It’s well known that loud noise can damage your hearing health, and even going to your local bar may be putting your hearing at risk. In fact, millions of Americans are risking their hearing health with these everyday activities that could harm your hearing.
Everyday Loud Noises
Many people are exposed to loud noises each and every day. Heavy traffic noise, the screeching of the subway train, or even passing a construction site are all very loud. Sirens go rushing by, we pick up our kids from a noisy school, and even our lawnmower or leaf blower at home add to the din. And if you work in a noisy environment or operate heavy machinery, you’re exposed to even more dangerously loud noise every day.
Very Loud Hobbies
Some of the noisiest hobbies include going to concerts and sporting events. With extremely loud music blasting through the loudspeakers and the roar of the huge crowd, these events can damage your hearing in just one night. Recreational motor vehicles are often very noisy. ATVs, motorbikes, and boats can all be extremely loud. Hunting, woodworking, or playing a musical instrument can all damage your hearing.
Another surprisingly loud hobby is listening to music with headphones or earbuds. We often crank up the volume to drown out background noise. However, listening to music with the volume on high can be extremely loud! And all this music goes directly into your ears, leading to hearing loss.
Loud Noise and Hearing Loss
All these loud noises can damage your hearing a lot faster than you might think. Even one loud concert can do irreparable damage to your ears. The delicate cells in your inner ear are easily damaged by excessive noise. And the longer you’re in the loud noise, the faster your ears are damaged. Millions of Americans are hurting their ears with loud noise, and risking hearing loss and tinnitus.
Hearing Loss and Your Brain
Hearing loss doesn’t just affect your ears, it has a major impact on your brain as well. If you’re struggling to hear, all your energy and brain power will go into straining to hear. You’ll try to follow conversations and keep up with social situations even though you can’t hear clearly. This puts a strain on your brain. You’ll have a harder time understanding the meaning of the words when you miss some important sounds, and you’ll have a hard time focusing on the person you’re trying to hear. It also becomes more difficult to hear in places with a background noise, since your brain can’t distinguish between background noise and speech sounds.
Hearing Loss Is Isolating
These everyday effects of hearing loss leave you feeling isolated. You can’t participate in conversations like you used to. You may choose to stay home and avoid meeting your friends, because you’re embarrassed to admit you can’t hear what they’re saying. And even conversations with your loved ones at home can become a real struggle. People with untreated hearing loss have a higher risk of social isolation, loneliness, and even depression.
Protecting Your Hearing
Thankfully, noise induced hearing loss is preventable! By wearing hearing protection, you can prevent hearing loss and easily hear all the sounds around you. Follow these tips to protect your hearing:
- Wear earplugs. Whenever you’re somewhere noisy, pop in a pair of foam or wax ear plugs to reduce the volume of the sound. Make sure you’ve inserted them correctly and they’re fitting snugly in your ear canal.
- Wear earmuffs if you work on a noisy construction site or go to the shooting range. These provide a better seal around your ears to protect your hearing.
- Stand or sit further away from loudspeakers at concerts or sports events.
- If you’ve been in noise for an hour, step outside and take a break. Give your ears a rest for a few minutes before going back inside.
- Download a decibel reader app on your phone to measure the sound volume at concerts, sports events, theaters, or bars. If the sounds are too loud, put in ear protection.