Hearing loss isn’t just an old person problem. Currently, in the USA, it is more common in adults over 20 years old than ever before and is projected to double over the coming years as a result of increased exposure and proximity to loud sounds. Now more than ever careful consideration of your ears and hearing health is important. Let’s take a look at the road to healthy hearing.
How Exactly Does Hearing Work?
Think of your ears as an input device like a keyboard or mouse for a computer. These devices translate actions you perform to a language a computer can interpret and react to.
Your ears act as the medium between the sounds around you and your brain. As sound waves surround the ear, your eardrum and tiny bones inside your ear start to vibrate accordingly. Small receptors or hairs capture those vibrations and convert them into electrical signals that your brain can understand and register as sound.
How is Sound Measured?
You probably already have your own idea of sounds you can hear easily and those you can’t hear at all. These sounds are measured in units of decibels (dB), and while your personal hearing ID may differ, the average person with optimal and healthy hearing perceives anything over 80 dB to be loud.
The below chart shows familiar noises in dB levels – for example, a motorcycle usually produces sounds at 99~99dB!
What Affects Healthy Hearing?
Your hearing health is affected by a combination of the intensity of the sounds you hear (decibel level, dB) and the duration you are being exposed to them. For example, the World Health Organization warns that more than 4 minutes of exposure to a rock concert every 7 days can cause permanent damage to your hearing.
The louder the sound, the less the time you should expose yourself to it. Consistent exposure over time can bring on hearing loss at an earlier age and have a tremendous impact on your physical and mental health.
How Can You Protect Your Hearing?
Even if you’ve started experiencing the early signs of hearing loss, it’s not too late to make regular adjustments to your lifestyle to address your hearing health.
Try protecting your ears with earplugs or noise-canceling headphones when you’re exposed to loud sounds.
Using a hearing aid or hearing amplifier that is adjusted to your personalized needs are also a good way of protecting your hearing. This makes sure you hear each sound as you need to hear it – not too loud, not too quiet.
What are Some Early Signs of Hearing Loss?
Do any of these sound familiar to you? If so, you may be experiencing symptoms of mild to moderate hearing loss.
- It seems like people around you are whispering or mumbling.
- You are spending more time concentrating on what others are saying and looking for context clues like lip-reading, hand gestures, facial expressions, etc.
- You find yourself asking people to repeat what they just said.
- The people around you comment on how loud the TV or music is.
- People seem to be sneaking up on you.
- Family, friends, or colleagues are complaining that they have trouble hearing you or you’re too loud.
- You have increasing amounts of headaches or are experiencing more fatigue than normal.
If you are experiencing these early signs of hearing loss, we recommend you see an audiologist for professional help.
Treating hearing loss from an early stage allows you to preserve your hearing better and longer.
Do I Need a Hearing Amplifier or Hearing Aid?
If you are experiencing early signs of hearing loss, don’t wait to get help! Delaying the start of your journey on the road to healthy hearing could lead to significant consequences later down the road. A hearing amplifier (also known as PSAP) and a hearing aid are very different devices, however, and the decision between one or the other should not be made lightly.
For more information, please check out our detailed PSAP vs Hearing Aid Article to understand the important differences between these two devices.