More than nine million Brits are thought to suffer from some degree of hearing loss, and while it is more common in older people, plenty of younger people have hearing problems too. The charity Action on Hearing Loss believes as many as four million young Brits are at risk of hearing damage from loud music; for example which can include tinnitus as well as hearing loss; also is urging them to better protect their ears from prolonged exposure to it.
“This damage can take a long time to show up and, obviously, the older one gets; the more sound you’re likely to be expose to,” says Wheatley. “You don’t get any more of the hair cells and when they’re gone; so they’re gone and so is your hearing. “They tend to think of hearing loss as something that affects older people and often this is the case.
Risk of hearing loss
However, shockingly, according to the World Health Organisation, not only are 466 million people currently living with disabling hearing loss, but more than a billion young people aged between 12-35 years are at risk of hearing loss due to recreational exposure to loud sounds,” he adds. Want to know how you and your loved ones can protect your ears? Here are Wheatley’s simple tips to lower your sound exposure and protect your hearing at any age.
Sometimes, a little peace and quiet is exactly what you need. As exposure to sound is calculate as an average over a 24-hour period, those quiet times will help bring the average down and your ears will benefit from a period of no or low-exposure to sound. The obvious time to achieve quiet is when you’re asleep, so make your bedroom environment as quiet as possible. If you live on a busy road, this may be tricky, but double glazing and heavy-duty blackout curtains can help.
How long are you listening for, how loud is it, and what’s the ‘energy’ content of what you’re listening to? These factors combine to give you your sound dose. How does your sound dose compare with the hearing health recommendations? As a guide, electronic dance music is high energy – lots of beats, few gaps to recover while speech, with lots of quiet pauses between words, is relatively low energy.
Plug in headphones
When you’re sitting on the train, tube or bus, it’s tempting to plug in your headphones and switch off from the world. However, you’ll probably find yourself nudging up the volume to block out the extraneous noise so you can hear clearly they tend to listen at 6-10dB above the level of the background noise. So, if you’re on an underground train that can reach levels as high as 90-100dB; also attempting to get the volume above that, you’re on dangerous ground, hearing wise.
The best thing you can do when background noise is high is use earplugs or, if you want to listen to something; so wear over-ear (preferably noise-cancelling) headphones that block out most of the noise; so letting you listen comfortably at lower, less harmful levels. If you use noise-cancelling headphones, you’ll find that in noisy environments you’ll listen at a lower volume; so you’ll be able to use your headphones three or four times longer, and you’ll be doing your long-term hearing a favour.
Earpiece-type noise-cancelling headphones will reduce ambient noise by a factor of 10, over-ear ones by 20 (their physical shape makes a more effective barrier than in-ear headphones). They work by cancelling out the noise you’re being expose to; also they make it quieter even if you’re not actually listening to anything. You’ll still have to listen at 6-10dB above the noise ‘floor’ (residual level); but as that will be much lower, the total listening level will be correspondingly lower.