A full-time job, hobbies, families and friends – life today is a lot busier than it used to be.
That’s why many people don’t feel they have the time to make healthy lifestyle choices part of their daily routine. However, we shouldn’t forget that our health is incredibly important. While a healthy diet and exercise are often mentioned as part of a good lifestyle, looking after your hearing doesn’t usually make the list, even though there are 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults at risk. But what everyday things can affect our hearing?
Listening to music with your MP3-Player isn’t harmful as such. However, long-term exposure to loud music can cause damage. Dr George Alexiades, otologist at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, explains: “With earbuds that don’t block background sound, people crank up their music louder.” He adds: “Our ears really weren’t meant to listen to music at the level we’re listening to it for hours and hours.”
When the birds are singing and the sun is shining, there’s nothing nicer than taking the convertible for a spin down the country roads. As lovely as a trip like this might be, it’s not entirely without risk for your hearing. Dr Philip Michael from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham tested what sounds we’re exposed to when driving convertibles. He found that drivers were usually exposed to sound levels of 88-90 decibels. To put these numbers into perspective, a normal conversation is usually held at 50-60 decibels. A prolonged exposure to 85 decibels is known to cause hearing loss, which is why this hobby should be enjoyed in moderation.
It’s no secret that smoking is bad for you, but it’s less well known that it can also affect your hearing. That’s because the cochlea, an essential part of our hearing system, needs a good oxygenated blood flow in order to work properly. When smoking tobacco, the blood flow is being restricted. While one cigarette might not be enough to permanently damage your hearing, it will add up over time. Yet another good reason to quit now.
A busy city street can reach noise levels of 100 decibels. If an ambulance is driving past or a train pulls in, the noise level can be even higher. City dwellers, who are exposed to these sounds constantly, can use earplugs and get regular hearing tests to stay on top of the problem.
Does your neighbour listen to the TV so loudly that you know what channel he’s watching? If you have to raise your voice to make yourself understood while the TV is on, then it’s definitely too loud. Instead of turning up the volume to hear, you might be able to improve your hearing with a hearing aid. Your neighbours and your ears will thank you for it.
You can protect your hearing by making sure to avoid situations such as the ones described above. Even if you’re living a busy lifestyle, it pays off to pay attention to these little details and take the necessary precautions to protect your health and if you find you do start to suffer from a hearing problem, remember there are now many different hearing aids available to help you; some are virtually invisible as they fit right into the ear canal.
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