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3 Things You Should Understand About Hearing Protection

man wearing ear protection while woodcutting

Protection of the ears is a responsibility that many people neglect! However, there are various reasons why it is vital to protect your ears from loud noises. This article will explain three things you should understand about hearing loss and hearing protection.

What Causes Hearing Loss?

There are two main causes of hearing loss: noise exposure and aging.

Noise Exposure: Noise damage can occur in a variety of situations, including at work or home, around power tools, heavy machinery, concerts and sporting events. It is essential to understand that any loud sound can be damaging if it occurs continuously for an extended period. Therefore, reducing the volume level should always be your first defense against noise damage. You also need to wear proper protection when you know you will be exposed to high levels over long periods, such as working with jackhammers all day on a construction site. 

Aging: As we get older, our natural ability to hear gradually diminishes until finally, the nerves don’t send auditory signals to the brain anymore. This process can start as early as 40 years old and is often gradual so that people may not even realize they are losing their hearing until it is too late.

Which Tools Can You Use to Manage Hearing Loss?

It is vital to remember that noise exposure is cumulative, so the effects can build up over time. Through the use of hearing protection devices, you can significantly reduce the risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss. Various devices can be used to protect your hearing, depending on the situation and level of noise exposure.

Earplugs

These come in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit most ear canals. They work by reducing the amount of sound reaching your inner ear. The downside is the loss of natural hearing and a feeling of isolation.

Earmuffs

These work by completely blocking sound waves from reaching your ears. They are somewhat bulky but can be very effective when you only have to be exposed for short periods, such as shooting or attending rock concerts.

If buying specialized products is not practical, you can also protect yourself by avoiding any situations where you will be exposed for long periods. Therefore, it is important to understand how long you can safely be exposed to a particular noise level. In addition, it is advisable to consult an audiologist to ensure that you are not taking any risks.

In particular, in cases where individuals are already experiencing hearing loss due to aging or noise-induced hearing loss, various hearing aids make it possible to manage and enhance your hearing.

If you have been diagnosed with moderate hearing loss, you may benefit from using a hearing aid that is designed specifically for your level and degree of hearing loss. Hearing aids amplify sound but consider how much amplification will actually help instead of amplifying every little noise to make up for what has been lost through damage or aging.

In-the-Ear (ITE) Hearing Aid

An in-the-ear hearing aid is a great option for someone who has mild-to-moderate loss. The devices are custom-fitted and use an open dome or tube technology which allows sound to enter at the natural entrance of your ear canal instead of through a speaker behind your ear like other types.

Behind-the-Ear (BTE) Hearing Aid

BTE hearing aids are the most common type of hearing aid and sit behind the ear. They use a small plastic case that houses the electronic components and battery, connected to an earmold that fits your ear canal. The BTE style is available in both custom and non-custom models. 

In-the-Canal (ITC) Hearing Aid

In-the-canal hearing aids are designed to fit snugly in the ear canal and are the most discreet type of hearing aid. Because they sit so close to the eardrum, these hearing aids can amplify sound more effectively than other types of hearing aids. In-the-canal hearing aids also come with various features, such as directional microphones that help focus sound on the person who is speaking and noise-cancellation technology that reduces background noise.

Proactivity Is Key to Hearing Protection

When it comes to hearing protection, proactivity is key. That means being aware of the risks associated with loud noise and taking steps to protect your ears before they’re damaged. It also means wearing proper hearing protection when necessary and keeping that protection in good condition. Finally, if you are unsure of the level of risk, you are exposed to book an appointment with an audiologist to discuss your particular risk profile and the steps you can take to prevent hearing loss where possible.

If you have any questions regarding ear protection and possible precautions you can use, reach out to Hear for You Hearing & Balance Center at 401-475-6116 and speak to one of our friendly consultants regarding any questions you might have about your hearing health.