Whether you spend your week working in a noisy industrial environment or use heavy machinery over the weekend, when you’re dealing with loud noises of any type, it pays to make sure that you protect your hearing.
In 2002, a US National Health and Nutrition Survey in 2002 revealed that loud noises are the number one cause of impaired hearing loss in adults.
And while noise-induced hearing loss is sometimes the result of a single event – like an explosion, for example – it is far more common for people to lose their hearing after years and years of over exposure to moderate or loud sounds, such as music or industrial machinery.
That’s why it’s important to make sure you protect your hearing at all times.
But, according to Statistics Canada, 41% of adults never use any kind of hearing protection at all when they’re around loud noises and only 24% of people always use hearing protection in loud environments. (The remaining 35% use protection on occasion, but not frequently or consistently.)
As audiologists, this is concerning, because it means that 76% of Canadians that work in noisy environments are risking noise-induced hearing loss every day.
To make matters worse, NIHL is irreversible and permanent.
But it is preventable.
If you’re not around loud noises every day, then single-use earplugs are a good, affordable protection against hearing damage.
To wear these disposable earplugs, simply roll the them into thin, crease-free tubes and gently place them into your ear canal. Once they’re there, they are designed to expand to hug the walls of your ear canal and provide your ears with protection from exposure to loud noises.
However, if you come into regular contact with noisy environments in your profession or day-to-day life, then it pays to invest in custom hearing protection.
Custom earplugs are designed to be used over and over again, which is ideal for people who work in loud environments on daily basis. They’re also designed to fit ear canals of all sizes, so that you almost don’t notice they’re there. (Although, you might need to work with an Audiologist to make sure you’ve got the right fit – it’s important that the plugs seal the ear canal without being uncomfortable.)
They’re highly effective too, protecting your ears from the harmful damage that noises above 85db can do.
And, best of all, custom earplugs are relatively inexpensive. Because they are designed to be re-used time and time again, they’re washable and easy to carry around in your pocket. (If you work in dirty or dusty environments and need them in a jiffy, you also don’t need to get them dirty rolling the tips like you would with non-customized, disposable ear plugs.)
However, custom ear molds do need to be replaced, depending on how much you use them. On average, you’ll need to replace them every two years or so, although you might want to do it every year or so if you use them a lot
If you’re prepared, noise-induced hearing loss is completely preventable.
The key is making sure that you are thinking about your hearing protection whenever you’re in noisy environments and – if necessary – taking the appropriate precautions against hearing damage.
But, when it comes to protecting your hearing, there is no one size fits all solution.
It pays to talk to your Audiologist about your options. They’ll be able to advise you on a protection that suits you, keeping you working comfortably and safely in high noise environments, without any risk to your hearing whatsoever.
If you work in loud environments or have a loud hobby, why not talk to your Audiologist today to see how hearing protection could help save your hearing.