Summer Gets Loud: How to Protect Your Hearing
It’s summertime, and the livin’ is easy. But outdoor activities can lead to noise-induced hearing loss if you are not careful. People of all ages should take extra precautions to protect their hearing during the summer months.
When the weather is warm, our natural inclination is to go outside. However, Henry Ford audiologist Jessica Snyders, Au.D., reminds us that many popular summer activities can be hazardous to our ears due to high decibel levels.
“Prolonged exposure to the sounds of lawn mowers, power tools, motorized vehicles, sporting events, concerts and fireworks can all lead to irreversible hearing damage,” she says.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep your ears safe and prevent long-term damage. The following tips are recommended by the Better Hearing Institute, an organization devoted to educating the public about proper hearing health, and helping those with hearing loss benefit from proper treatment.
- Use earplugs. When you are going to be exposed to loud sounds, wear earplugs to prevent damage to your hearing. Disposable earplugs made of foam or silicone are readily available and will allow you to hear music and conversations while blocking dangerously loud sounds. Custom ear protection crafted from earmolds will perfectly fit the unique contours of your ears, guaranteeing a snug, proper fit and dependable protection.
- Leave the fireworks to the professionals. Fireworks are synonymous with the 4th of July, but they represent an extreme noise hazard and should be restricted to professionals. The bang from a single firecracker at close range can cause immediate and permanent hearing damage. When watching fireworks, enjoy them from a distance. Earplugs will provide an extra level of hearing protection without detracting from the festivities.
- Take measures to protect against swimmer’s ear. There’s nothing more refreshing than a cool swim on a hot day, but when water enters the ear canals it can lead to a painful infection known as swimmer’s ear. To protect against this, invest in a pair of swimmer’s ear plugs. Dry your ears thoroughly after swimming, and make sure to tilt your head to the side to drain any residual water from your ear canals. Avoid swimming in water where bacterial counts are high (look for signs posted at the local beach).
- Keep the volume down. When listening to music — especially through headphones or earbuds — keep the volume turned down. If others around you can hear your music, it’s too loud!
- Limit your time in noisy environments. Take steps to limit the length of time you spend in noisy environments. When participating in noisy activities, make sure to give yourself periodic quiet breaks.
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Jessica Snyders, Au.D., is an audiologist who sees patients at Henry Ford Medical Center – Fairlane in Dearborn and Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital.