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Take Steps to Halt Hearing Loss

2012-08-09

It is estimated that 15 percent of Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 have some degree of hearing loss from exposure to excessive noise at work, or the community.

“Most people experience some degree of hearing loss as they age, but exposure to significant levels of noise over time can accelerate that process,” explains Caryn Graboski, MS, CCC-SLP, of the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange, New Jersey.

“We know that NIHL results from regular exposure to intense sounds of about 85 decibels (dB), which include lawn mowers, power tools, motorcycles, and even hair dryers.

“And while hearing loss cannot be reversed, steps can be taken to protect your ears and minimize damage.”

Studies show that hearing loss impacts the ability to communicate and can have a profound effect on people’s lives.

Such loss can impact personal and professional relationships, as well as academic achievement and career advancement.

To help minimize the effects of Noise Induced Hearing Loss, Kessler Institute offers these tips:

Understand the types of noises that can cause damage, particularly those above 85 dB.
Avoid situations where noises are too loud, too long, or too close.
Wear protective earplugs when attending sporting events or music concerts, or when using certain machinery or equipment such as lawn mowers, motorcycles, machinery, and leaf blowers.
If necessary, use specially designed earmuffs or earphones in the workplace.
Be alert for hazardous noises in the environment. If necessary, plug your ears with your fingers.
Take a “quiet” break, particularly when in noisy or loud places.
Lower the volume of iPods, MP3 players, radios, TVs, or other electronic devices. You should still be able to hear people or street noise above the music.
When purchasing headphones or ear buds, look for models with volume limiters and noise cancellation features.
“Symptoms of NIHL can increase gradually over time, so it’s important to be aware of any changes in your ability to hear things clearly,” said Monica Bucenec, MS, CCC-SLP, of the Kessler Saddle Brook, New Jersey, campus.

You may have a hearing loss if you:

Ask people to repeat themselves or misunderstand what people are saying.
Understand people better when you look directly at their face.
Have trouble hearing when on the phone in a noisy room.
Experience ringing in your ears.
Keep the radio and TV at a volume level that others think is too loud.
If hearing loss is suspected, it is recommended that you have a medical examination and see an otolaryngologist or audiologist for a hearing test.

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