A lot of people rarely put any thought into it until it’s far too late, but our ears are incredibly sensitive. Given that hearing is one of our major senses, it’s of the utmost importance that we try our best to preserve it. Sometimes accidents or genetic issues arise that are out of our control, but a large degree of hearing loss is brought on by self imposed exposure to loud noises. People tend to operate heavy machinery, attend loud concerts, or play movies with booming sound systems without any sort of protection, and after prolonged exposure damage can definitely occur.
Of course, the level of risk you have for experiencing hearing loss depends completely on how loud the noises are that you are regularly exposed to, as well as how long you’re usually around them. Health experts have found that continuous exposure to noises that around 85 decibels or higher – a level which is similar to that of heavy interstate traffic or a powerful lawn more – can cause notable hearing loss over time. That’s actually a good bit lower than a lot of the audio that people habitually listen to. If you want to stay away from such things, there are actually a good number of tips to prevent hearing loss that you can easily stick to if you try.
Of course, one of the most common sources of loud audio in our lives is music. Everyone loves to blast their favorite songs and albums on a great sounding stereo system, and even worse – listen with headphones at high volumes. If you like to wear headphones, it’s best to stay away from the in-ear variety, commonly known as ear buds. You should opt for noise canceling over-ear headphones that block sound from outside. This way, you won’t feel the need to turn them up so loud.
You should also stay away from any bass boost features when you listen to music. Music is mixed by professionals that have trained ears, so try to enjoy it on the default setting since that’s how it was meant to sound upon release. Turning up certain frequencies on the EQ can be incredibly uncomfortable for your ears, even if you don’t realize it. “Audio fatigue” is an industry term that all audio engineers use to refer to when the ears are literally sore from having sound pumped into them for a long time. You can get the same from listening to music for long periods of time, especially if the volume and certain frequencies are boosted.
Of course, you need some tips to prevent hearing loss when it comes to the home entertainment system as well. You want to apply a lot of the same principles from music-listening safety to your television and movie watching experiences. Watching Blu-rays or DVDs with a fancy 5.1 surround sound system can be incredibly immersive and more accurately replicate the theater experience, but you should leave the volume just loud enough that you can comfortably follow all of the dialogue. Turning it up even louder just for the sake of it being loud and shaking the walls does more harm than good in the long run.
When you’re using your computer, you can actually install programs that normalize your audio output. This is very useful for streaming video where each video may be lower or higher in volume than the next. If the next video in the queue was produced with its volume in the red (meaning – as loud as possible) and you’re currently turned all the way up because the one playing right now is quiet, you’re in for a painful shock that may well lead to some hearing damage.
Proper ear protection is also useful at concerts, major sports events, and any time you operate machinery or fire guns. A lot of people say “oh, it isn’t that loud” as if they’re tough by shrugging it off. Habitual exposure to those sort of decibel levels is absolutely not worth it in the long run. Musicians have a high likelihood of developing tinnitus and horrible hearing in general given the loud noise they’re always standing right in the midst of. Even at a distance, the 100+ decibel levels of concerts can damage your ears. Keep them safe!
Even if they make you feel less “cool” somehow, these tips to prevent hearing loss can make sure that your ears stay healthy for a long time to come. Living with ringing in the ears and not being able to hear people very well isn’t worth the risk. Protect your ears as well as you can and you’ll have a much more enjoyable life overall.