Guest Blogger John O’Connor

I feel so lucky to have been contacted by John O’Connor who has submitted this well-written and compelling article about hearing loss. Do enjoy!

Preventing Hearing Loss Through Healthy Lifestyles

Some people experience hearing loss from listening to their iPods and MP3 players. Some people know that listening to these players can make them develop hearing loss, but few of them are doing anything about it. Some teens who are advised to turn down the volume on their players, do what teens do — actually turn the volume up!

A study conducted at Colorado University and Children’s Hospital in Boston followed 30 iPod users. Unsurprisingly, they discovered that teens play their music much louder than adults. They also found that most teens were not aware of how loud their music actually was. They do not appear to understand the risk they are placing themselves in regarding potential hearing loss.

It has been shown that listening to ear buds for an hour and a half daily at 80 percent volume is likely safe for long term hearing. However, softer is better. You can, for example, listen safely at only 70 percent volume for four and a half hours daily. According to the study, the risk of hearing damage can rise with as little as five minutes of music exposure at high volume. This level of noise can damage the tiny, delicate hairs inside the ears that translate sound waves into brain signals that emerge as sound.

Adding to the risk of hearing damage that may lead to hearing aids is the fact that today’s batteries allow people to listen to music for greater lengths of time than before. In fact, batteries can play music for 15 hours or longer for many players.

The good news is that most music listeners do not listen to their players at full volume. Only 7-24 percent are listening at levels considered risky. The danger depends upon how high the volume is and for how long.

There are a number of things you can do to help prevent hearing loss and avert age-related hearing loss that steadily grows worse. One thing you can do is be sure your ears are protected in your workplace. The workplace is one of the most common causes of hearing loss. Loud equipment combined with little or no protection can damage tiny hairs in the inner ear and lead to progressive hearing loss.

There are earmuffs that are specially designed to dampen sound or prevent it from reaching the ears altogether. They can attenuate sound or bring it down to a safe level. These earmuffs are made of various materials, like foam or metal. They may contain things like gel to effectively disrupt sound before it reaches the ear and has a chance to do damage to hearing.

Be sure to have your hearing testing if you suspect hearing loss or are concerned you may suffer hearing loss in the future. Your doctor will be able to diagnosis the problem and give you various solutions to protect your hearing or may even suggest the use of hearing aids.  This also will allow doctors to establish a baseline of hearing for you. Then, if there is a deviation from that baseline in the future, you will know some hearing loss has occurred and be able to take preventative measures.

About

An author, a teacher, a candlestick maker? I am lucky enough to have followed my muse through a most eclectic life of many careers, many interests, and many friends and liasions. Two beautiful children, now grown and one their own, several books -- the penultimate accomplishment dream come true, a hores trainer, a college professor, and a stint in corporate America to validate my feelings that I never, ever want to go there again. So I donned my ruby slippers and dared to take those different paths, those diverging paths, and that has made all the difference! (Thank you, Robert!)

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