Posted on Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Hearing Conservation this Summer

Take care during fireworks shows to conserve hearing this summer.

Hearing loss can happen over time or in an instant, but the danger from sudden or noise induced hearing loss can increase during summer activities. It’s not just the loud outdoor concerts, but swimming, diving, fireworks, and common yard work activities that can damage hearing. There are precautions everyone should follow for good hearing conservation this summer.

Summer Sounds
According to the National Institute on Health (NIH) , “Long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss.” And sounds above that like a firecracker that measures around 130 decibels can cause immediate damage to ears. It’s important that you purchase hearing protection when going to fireworks shows or if setting fireworks off in the backyard. Most neighborhood pharmacies carry packs of ear protects and they are a lot less expensive than hearing loss. During the summer when you may be more exposed to loud noises, even exposure to lawnmowers and boats can cause hearing loss when exposed to over a few hours, you might want to consider having custom made ear protection made to help conserve your hearing.

What Causes Noise Induced Hearing Loss?
Inside the ear are small, delicate hairs that help conduct the noise that constitutes your hearing. Injury to these hair cells comes from exposure, sudden or prolonged, to loud noises like lawnmowers, leaf blowers, and fireworks at close range. Conserving hearing during these activities by wearing protective listening devices can help prevent hearing loss now and into the future.

Sudden Hearing Loss
Sudden hearing loss can come from trauma to the ear, recent plane travel, or other physical causes like sneezing. But it doesn't always occur with pain, and when their is a loss of hearing or a stuffed feeling in the ears from concerts or loud explosion sudden hearing loss can seem less like the emergency that it is. Often the person suffering with sudden hearing loss doesn't realize there is a limited amount of time to get help to conserve their hearing. That time limit is what the Center for Hearing Loss Help defines as the “golden hour”. It’s not actually an hour. In fact, it’s best for a person to seek help within 24-48 hours to regain full hearing. However, there are examples of patients treated a few weeks after the incident regaining partial to full hearing, so even if you have passed that golden hour, don’t despair, see your audiologist right away to conserve your hearing.

Water and the Ears
The presence of fluid in the inner ear can cause hearing loss in addition to other symptoms like ringing in the ears (tinnitus), vertigo, nausea and vomiting. Most of the time water will make its way out of the ear naturally or through home remedies, but occasionally water becomes lodged behind the eardrum causing pain and infection. If left untreated, this infection could cause permanent hearing loss. Especially for children, wearing earplugs when swimming can protect hearing by helping to prevent infections and painful bouts of swimmer's ear.

Protecting your hearing this summer can be as simple as wearing custom earplugs when mowing, attending concerts, working with machinery or engaging in other noisy activities. Earplugs for water sports and activities can keep water from the ears, protecting your ears while helping to prevent your body reacting to cold water conditions through exotosis. An audiologist can provide custom fit protective molds for your ears. Custom fit means more comfort and a greater chance of use, but that's not the only reason to see an audiologist.

Regular checkups with your audiologist are as important as regular checkups with your eye doctor. Your sense of hearing is a precious gift that needs to be maintained through proper care and prevention. Summer sounds and activities damage hearing, so take precautions and see an audiologist to head off any hearing health problems before they happen. If you'd like to learn more, see your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!

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