Hearing loss prevention
Learn how to protect yourself from hearing loss.
Most causes of hearing loss are impossible to prevent. However, noise-induced hearing loss is not.
What is noise-induced hearing loss?
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is hearing loss caused by either exposure to a loud impulse sound like a gunshot or explosion, or prolonged exposure to high levels of noise. It can happen immediately or gradually over time.
The Hearing Care Industry Association estimates that 37% of adult hearing loss in Australia is preventable, of which the vast majority is noise-induced.
Noises below 75 decibels (dB), are unlikely to cause hearing loss. Sounds 85 dB and above can. See decibel levels for common sounds — and their associated hearing loss risks.
Preventing noise-induced hearing loss
Fortunately, noise-induced hearing loss can be prevented. Preventing noise-induced hearing loss requires you to do three things:
- Know what sounds are too loud (anything above 85 dB)
- Either avoid loud sounds or limit your exposure or proximity to them
- Wear hearing protection when you can’t avoid or move a safe distance from loud noises
10 tips to help protect your hearing
- Use hearing protection around loud sounds. Foam earplugs are an economical solution, or consider purchasing custom earplugs to best reduce the sound levels.
- Turn the volume down on the TV, radio, music, etc.
- Avoid loud or noisy activities/places, when possible.
- Limit your time exposed to loud sounds.
- When listening to loud sounds (e.g., music, concerts, fitness classes, etc.), take breaks from the noise.
- Move away from the loudest sound source (e.g., speakers, fireworks, etc.).
- Give your ears time to recover after being exposed to loud noises.
- Do not put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear! This includes cotton swabs, bobby pins, keys, paperclips, or anything else you might use to clean or scratch your ears.
- Keep moving! Exercise keeps the blood pumping throughout the body, including the ears. This keeps the internal parts of the ears healthy.
- Get your hearing tested, especially if you experience a change in your hearing, ringing or fullness in your ears over 24 hours.
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