NHS choices offer some great tips on protecting your hearing.
Keeping your hearing healthy is largely about knowing how much loud sound you’re exposed to. Most cases of deafness (around four out of every five) are caused by damage to the tiny hair cells in the inner ear. This damage can be the result of too much noise, and it’s permanent. Noise-related hearing loss is usually irreversible.It is important that we all take steps to prevent noise-related damage. The key to keeping your hearing intact is to avoid loud noise.
- Use earplugs
The louder the noise and the longer you’re exposed to it, the greater the chance of damaging your hearing. Protect your ears with ear protectors – earplugs or earmuffs – and get away from the noise as quickly or as often as you can.
- Turn down the music
Don’t listen to your personal music player at very high volumes and never to drown out background noise. If the music is uncomfortable for you to listen to, or you can’t hear external sounds when you’ve got your headphones on, then it’s too loud.
- Use the 60:60 rule
Listen to your music at 60% of the MP3 player’s maximum volume for no more than 60 minutes a day. If your MP3 player has a ‘smart volume’ feature, use it. It will help you regulate the volume.
- Wear headphones
When listening to your personal music player, opt for noise-cancelling headphones, or go retro with older muff-type headphones. These block out background noise and allow you to have the volume lower. Ear-bud style headphones and in-the-ear headphones are less effective at drowning out background noise. Try to take regular breaks from your headphones, though, to give your ears a rest.
- Turn down the dial
Turn down the volume on your TV, radio or hi-fi a notch. Even a small reduction in volume can make a big difference to the risk of damage to your hearing. If you need to raise your voice to be heard above the sound, turn it down.
- Use earplugs when you’re listening to live music
They can reduce average sound levels by between 15 and 35 decibels. They’re widely available at many live music venues and shouldn’t spoil your enjoyment of the music.
- Don’t put up with work noise
If you’re experiencing noise at work, talk to your human resources (HR) department or your manager and ask for advice on reducing the noise and getting hearing protection.
- Wear ear protectors
Wear ear protectors (earplugs or earmuffs) if you are using noisy equipment such as power drills, saws, sanders or lawn mowers.
- Be careful in the car
Listening to music in a confined space increases the risk of hearing damage. Don’t listen to music too loud for too long.
- Have a hearing detox
Give your ears time to recover after they’ve been exposed to loud noise. According to Deafness Research UK, you need at least 16 hours of rest for your ears to recover after spending around two hours in 100dB sound, for example in a club. Reducing this recovery time increases the risk of permanent deafness.