Turn Down for What? Your Hearing!

How much time do you spend listening to music each day? If you’re like me, it’s a lot. My headphones are my main accessory. I wear them during my entire commute before and after work, sometimes while I’m working and whenever I go for a run. In fact, it’s getting to the point where if I leave the house without my headphones on I feel like I’m missing a vital organ (I tend to be dramatic)!

So when I read the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recent report on how listening to a personal audio player for more than ONE hour a day can lead to permanent hearing loss I was a little freaked out.

According to WHO, about 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults, like me, are at risk of hearing loss from listening to personal audio devices, such as MP3 players and smartphones, at high volumes as well as regularly visiting loud bars, nightclubs and sporting events.

Hearing lossHow to lower your chances for hearing loss

After reading this report, somewhat irrationally, I started panicking that it was happening to me! Is this why I’ve been shouting, “WHAT?” more often to people? I had to look into what I could do to reduce my chances of losing my hearing. Luckily, WHO has a number of tips for young adults to prevent future hearing loss:

  1. Follow the 60/60 rule
    When you’ve got your headphones on, try to keep the volume below 60% and limit yourself to 60 minutes of listening per day. For me this means that I will only have my headphones on while I run or on my way to work. What does this mean for you?
  2. Use noise-cancelling headphones
    WHO also mentions that the type of headphones you use can make all the difference. Ear-muff style headphones are better than earbuds and noise-cancelling headphones may be best. Noise-cancelling headphones allow you to block out background noise and thus listen to music at a lower volume. I mostly use my noise-cancelling headphones so that I’m in line with their recommendations. Woot!
  3. Wear ear plugs and take listening breaks at noisy events
    When you are at a concert or noisy sporting event, try wearing ear plugs and take short listening breaks. When I’m at a concert I try to leave the stage area every once in a while to get a drink and chill for a few minutes in the bar or lounge area. I never knew that those small breaks could be so important to my ears!
  4. Get your hearing checked out
    Be aware of the signs of hearing loss and go to your doctor for regular hearing check-ups. The Mayo Clinic says that if you experience any of the following symptoms you may want to talk to your doctor:
         •    You find it hard to hear everything in a conversation, especially when there’s background noise like in a restaurant.
         •    You often have to turn up the volume when watching TV or listening to music to hear it properly.
         •    Sounds seem muffled.

Are your ears ringing after reading all this? Don’t worry, the good news is that it only takes small changes to lower your chances for hearing loss. By turning down the volume, changing the type of headphones you use and reducing the amount of time you spend around loud noises you can really make a difference.

If you have any questions about your hearing, talk to your doctor. Seriously -- I know I will!

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