It’s imperative to take care of our body. After all, we only have one in a lifetime! But there are certain body parts that we forget to focus on, particularly our ears! Sure, you can cover your ears when hearing very loud sounds while at work or in a concert, but is that really enough to keep it working well?
Learn all about the way our ears function and how we can protect it to continue listening and hearing the most beautiful sounds. Here’s an interesting infographic on protecting your ears, if you prefer visual explanation.
How Does Our Ears Work?
The ear works through capturing sound waves around you then translating it to signals that the brain interprets. The sound waves would travel from the ear canal to the eardrum, which causes vibration. The vibrations then travel to tiny bones in the middle ear, which amplifies and is sent to the cochlea, which has fluid-filled canals. There are also sensory hair cells that create electrical signals that your auditory nerve picks up. It’s then sent to the brain.
How Do Our Ears Become Damaged?
The most common reason why people lose their hearing is through age, as well as internal damages and hearing conditions from exposure to extremely loud noises. Like what we learned in school and from our parents, sudden noises can cause hearing loss, which is either temporary or permanent. Sustained exposure to loud sounds can also lead to progressive hearing loss.
The prolonged exposure to loud sounds would damage the hair cells, which are the ones that send information to the brain. When these hair cells damage, they do not regenerate. Besides this, the loud sounds also damage the cochlear nerve, which stop it from sending signals to your brain.
How Much Is Too Much?
Based on studies, noises that are below 75 decibels are considered safe even if you continue to expose yourself to the sound for a long time. But anything above 85 decibels may cause ear damage and loss of hearing, especially if you stay in the loud area for over eight hours.
To give you an example, normal conversation would have a sound level of about 60 decibels. Heavy traffic (horns, engines, and maybe the radio) would be around 85 decibels. A lawnmower is around 90 decibels, while firecrackers, concerts, and gunshots are about 110 to 150 decibels.
So as much as possible, avoid using loud equipment without protection or continue attending events without any rest.
How Will You Know How Loud It Is?
Of course, in normal conversation or when walking in the city, you can’t bring a machine to measure your decibels and control it!
You’ll know if you have to get out of a noisy environment if you need to raise your voice for your partner to hear you, or if you can’t hear someone that’s about two feet away from where you are standing. Also, if voices are muffled or dull once you have left the environment, then the noise that was around you was at a hazardous level.
You’ll also know you are exposing your ears to hazardous noise if you feel ear pain or tinnitus, which is a ringing sensation in the ears. But if you have already felt that your ears are accustomed to loud noises you used to cringe at before, then you may have already experienced hearing damage.
Unfortunately, a lot of people aren’t aware of hearing damage until the symptoms have worsened or after they are tested. That is why it’s imperative to go to a medical professional to have your ears checked every few months, as well as to take preventive measures to ensure that your ears won’t be damaged in the long run.
How To Prevent Hearing Damage
There are ways on how you can prevent ear damage. If you work in noisy environments, I recommend that you use protective earplugs or headphones while working. When handling loud equipment at home (such as power tools or a lawnmower), then use ear plugs. You may even want to wear ear plugs while in a concert.
For children, avoid giving them loud toys and that their electronic devices have low volume when in use. Also, if you or your children use earphones, avoid putting the volume up too high.
And there you have it! Through knowing about the risks of ear damage and what you can do to prevent it, you’ll have healthy ears that can listen and hear everything around you for a lifetime. Just make sure to avoid loud tools and areas and you’re good to go.