Whether it’s because we played in a college band, cranked up our headphones too loud, or used power tools without proper ear protection, most of us will experience some hearing loss as we get older. The good news is that there are steps we can take now to preserve the hearing we have. Consumer Reports explains how to do it.
Chris Martin, will.i.am, and The Who’s Pete Townshend are just some of the many musicians suffering from hearing damage after years of exposure to loud music.
But you don’t have to be a rock star to lose your hearing. People of all ages are vulnerable, and audiologists say it’s important to understand the causes.
Hearing isn’t damaged just by high-level sound, it’s damaged by high-level sound over a period of time by some of the things we do over and over throughout our lives. For example, just 15 minutes at a football game in a stadium may cause hearing damage, and just 5 minutes listening to a very loud TV or music turned all the way up on an iPhone with standard earbuds on. So if you attend games and concerts often or crank up your iPhone volume daily, your risk for hearing loss increases.
Consumer Reports says one trick is to minimize the intensity of noises around you. Use noise-canceling headphones that shut out background clamor so you can keep the volume at a low level. If you operate a lawnmower or power tools regularly, wear earmuffs or earplugs that reduce noise back down to normal conversation level.
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And did you know that many TVs have an automatic turn-down function during commercials and loud, action-packed sequences? It’s usually found under the “assistive features” in your TV sound settings and may be called “auto volume” or “dynamic range protection.”
If you think you may have hearing loss, consider getting tested. The earlier you get help, the better.
Consumer Reports also says don’t discount a healthy lifestyle. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other conditions may factor into hearing loss. Eating well and exercising can also help.