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How do I protect my hearing?
Prevention is the best medicine
Should I protect my ears from loud noises?
How can I protect my ears from loud noises?
I work in a noisy environment
When should I protect my ears at home?
Does listening to loud music damage my hearing?
Top tips to protect your hearing
Through sensible preventive measures, many potential causes of hearing loss can be eliminated. Take care of your ears now, protect them from loud sounds and check your hearing regularly. That way, you will help keep your hearing in peak condition or at least have a chance to do something to protect your hearing from further damage. Remember: One-third of hearing loss is preventable with proper hearing protection. For many people today, MP3 players represent a new but serious threat to your long-term hearing, if over-used or used persistently at high volume.
You may think you're taking care of your ears by cleaning them or using over-the-counter (OTC) eardrops. In fact, poking things into your ears like ear buds, towels and fingers can damage the ear canal and carry infection. Some OTC drops and earwax softeners may inflame the ear cells. Only use eardrops that are prescribed by a specialist or your GP. To clean your ears, gently wipe the surface of your pinna (the outside of the ear) with a clean flannel.
One of the most important things you can do is to protect your ears from excessive noise levels, particularly over long periods of time. The louder the noise is and the longer you are exposed to it, the greater the risk of damage to your hearing.
How can I protect my ears from loud noises?
If loud music or noise ever causes discomfort or pain in your ears, you should use earplugs, take regular breaks from it, or turn down the sound or leave immediately. A handy rule of thumb is that if you can't talk to someone two metres away without shouting, the noise level could be damaging your hearing.
If you work in a noisy environment, you are protected by the law. Speak to your manager or employer about ways to protect your hearing. If your employer gives you ear protection, make sure you use it!
At home, always wear ear protectors if you are using noisy equipment such as: floor sanders, lawn mowers, drills and saws; and don't listen to your personal music player too loudly. Or, if you regularly take part in sports or activities that are noisy such as shooting or motor sports remember to wear ear protection.
Frequent exposure to loud noise can damage your hearing. This applies not only to rock concerts but playing portable stereos too loudly through headphones. There isn't a certain number of rock concerts you can go to and still be safe - it is a question of how loud and for how long. It is generally considered that exposure to noise of over 85 decibels is damaging, and being near to the speakers at a concert will often greatly exceed that.
Leave earwax alone, it helps to keep your ears healthy. Cleaning your ears with cotton buds or using over-the-counter eardrops can damage your ears.
Excessive noise can permanently damage your hearing. Always protect your ears with earplugs or earmuffs in noisy situations.
Pieces of cotton or paper towel (or spent bullet casings) stuffed in the ears are generally inadequate.
If you are in a place where the background noise is so loud you have to shout to be heard, or a film soundtrack at the cinema is uncomfortably loud, complain to the manager.
If you regularly take part in sports or activities that are noisy such as shooting or motor sports remember to wear ear protection.
Don't listen to your personal music player at very high volumes - if the music is uncomfortable for you to listen to then it's too loud, or if the person standing next to you can tell what you are listening to through earphones, the music is probably too loud and should be turned down
Reduce the number of noisy appliances running at the same time in your personal environment.
Avoid medications that can be dangerous to your hearing. Be sure to ask your doctor about possible effects on your hearing.
Have your blood pressure checked regularly, and take medication to keep high blood pressure under control.
If you have a family history of hearing loss, you should have regular hearing tests so that problems can be recognised and addressed early.