Preventing Hearing Loss
It’s a noisy world. That’s why it’s so important for everyone to protect their ears from dangerous noise and prevent noise-induced hearing loss, or NIHL. Keep in mind that hearing doesn’t have to diminish completely with age or as an inevitable consequence of military service. In fact, the proactive use of protective measures, such as getting regular screenings and wearing hearing protection devices, can help preserve the ability to hear. In doing so, participation in recreational activities, communicating with others, and serving in your chosen career field are viable options.
Whether on or off duty, it’s important to follow healthy hearing practices. Here are a few rules of thumb to follow to protect and preserve your hearing:
- Know the noise levels. Know how to detect dangerous noise levels and when, where, and how to use hearing protection devices to safeguard your ears. There are varieties of mobile applications and hand-held noise meters available that monitor noise levels.
- Use products with limited noise output. Previously, household tools, such as power tools and lawn maintenance machinery had extremely high noise levels. Some newer products have a more limited noise output, but hearing protection may still be appropriate.
- Reduce exposure. Limit the amount of time and exposure to high levels of noise, either by turning down the volume or walking away from a noisy environment. When possible, proactively avoid high-noise, high-risk situations. If this isn’t possible, be sure to use appropriate hearing protection. It’s easy to keep a set of ear plugs with you at all times.
- Wear hearing protection. Always use hearing protection devices in noisy recreational or occupational environments. This includes when engaging in activities that involve firearms, heavy machinery, crowds of people, or loud music. From fighting in combat to mowing the lawn, it’s important to use and properly wear hearing protection devices. This is especially true if you’re exposed to sudden, loud impulse noises or sustained, prolonged noise that is 85 decibels or more.
- Turn down the volume. When using personal listening devices or watching television, turn down the volume to a safe noise level. The maximum sound levels of most personal listening devices, TVs, and gaming systems usually exceed the 85 decibels threshold for safe listening. This is especially true when listening for prolonged periods of time.
- Give your ears a rest. If you’re using a personal listening device, attending a concert, or in an environment that involves prolonged listening to moderate or loud sounds, your ears need a recovery period or “quiet time” to rest.
Remember, caring properly for your ears is the best way to have continued hearing health.