“Protect the Hearing You Have!” may sound strange since we work every day to improve the quality of life for those who have hearing loss. With the rise in noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), it makes sense to think about what we do every day to educate the public and patients about protecting their hearing – the hearing they have today.
Recently, the Better Hearing Institute released a new eGuide about preventing noise-induced hearing loss titled, “Your Guide to Prevention of Hearing Loss from Noise, “ by Brian J. Fligor, ScD, Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School. The BHI says the timing for the new eGuide is due to the escalating problem of hearing loss while at the same time people are both experiencing NIHL at younger ages and staying in the workforce longer. The guide focuses on:
- How we hear
- How noise contributes to hearing loss and tinnitus
- The symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss
- How to prevent noise-induced hearing loss
- Occupations and activities with the highest risk
Noise is one of the most common causes of hearing loss and one of the most common occupational illnesses sites the BHI. In fact, 10 million Americans have already suffered irreversible hearing damage from noise and 30-50 million more are exposed to dangerous noise levels each day. So how do you talk to patients each day about hearing protection when it comes to noise? Do you find regular opportunities to educate the general public about hearing loss prevention?
The BHI points out that because the symptoms of NIHL are gradual many people do not appreciate the potential damage that loud noises today can cause in the future. An important part of prevention is for the public to understand what noises can cause damage and to be alert to hazardous noises. Noises over 85 decibels can cause various degrees of damage but what type of noises are those? Here are some examples:
- Jet engine – 140 decibels
- Rock concert – 120 decibels
- MP3 player – 100 decibels
- Lawn mower – 88 decibels
And, of course, another key to educating about preventing NIHL is encouragement to wear hearing protection devices (HPD). The BHI guide walks through a number of hearing protection devices and their uses.