From the neighbor’s dog that barks all night long to the elation you feel when hearing your favorite band perform live in concert, we swim through a symphony of sounds every day. The hearing is one of the most frequently used and vital senses that you have. Unfortunately, many people are unintentionally damaging their hearing without knowing it. Moreover, hearing loss occurs when the tiny hair cells in the inner ear are exposed to loud, damaging sounds. 

According to the Hearing Health Foundation, nearly 50 million Americans experience hearing loss in their lifetime, including one out of every five teenagers. Hearing loss is not something that can easily be fixed with a hearing aid and can lead to serious health conditions in advanced years. For example, those with mild hearing loss are twice as likely to develop dementia.  

Protect your ears

Only by taking the proper safe listening and hearing loss preventative measures can you protect your hearing health. Preventing hearing loss starts with identifying and avoiding loud noises. Be mindful of the sounds in the area where you spend a majority of the day. If you work in an industrial area, keeping a box of earplugs at work to use whenever loud machinery is in use may just save your hearing and the hearing of your co-workers.  

Turn down the volume

Listening to loud music is the leading cause of self-inflicted hearing loss. If you’re using headphones or earbuds, never turn them up more than 70 percent of the maximum volume. If you’re at a concert or nightclub where you can’t help but be around loud music, be sure to distance yourself from the speakers. If you enjoy being in the front row at a concert, then keeping a few pairs of earplugs handy is a must.  

Use ear protection

Standing too close to an explosive or gunshot when they go off is another common cause of hearing loss. If you go to a shooting range, be sure to bring earplugs and keep them on at all times. Over 60 percent of veterans returning from Iraq or Afghanistan come home with hearing loss and tinnitus. Tinnitus is a sudden and piercing ringing noise. It’s also a sign that you may be at risk for hearing loss. If you experience a sharp ringing sensation in your ear, it probably means that the noise level in your environment is too loud and may cause hearing loss. For some people with advanced hearing loss, tinnitus can last a lifetime.  

What volume is safe?

According to hearing health professionals, any sound above 105dB can cause hearing loss if endured for more than 15 minutes a week. Even sounds we wouldn’t normally consider noisy can cause hearing loss when endured for prolonged periods of time. Things like freeway traffic, a motorbike or boat engine, power tools, and other common sounds are around 80dB and are known to cause hearing loss after constant exposure. In contrast, a normal conversation with someone who is standing next to you is between 60dB to 65dB.  

Take the time to learn the best ways to protect yourself from hearing loss and you’ll be enjoying your favorite music well into your golden years.