Almost half a million people in Ireland have some form of hearing loss. More than 2,000 people will get their hearing checked this week during Hearing Awareness Week, organised by hearing healthcare provider Hidden Hearing.
To celebrate Hearing Awareness Week, Hidden Hearing has published the following top tips to look after your hearing.
1. Turn it down at home or on the go: According to the World Health Organisation an estimated 1.1 billion teenagers and young people are at risk of hearing loss due to the unsafe use of personal audio devices such as smartphones and exposure to damaging levels of sound at nightclubs, bars, and sporting events. Young people can better protect their hearing by keeping the volume down on personal devices.
2. Turn it down at play: WHO recommends that the highest permissible level of noise exposure in the workplace is 85 decibels, up to a maximum of eight hours per day. However many people in nightclubs, bars, and sporting events are often exposed to even higher levels of sound, and should therefore considerably reduce the duration of exposure. Exposure to noise levels of 100dB, which is typical in such venues, is safe for no more than 15 minutes.
3. Turn it down at work: If you are experiencing noise at work, talk to your human resources department or your manager, and ask for advice on reducing the noise and getting hearing protection. According to the Health and Safety Association workers and their representatives must be informed that the noise level is likely to exceed 85dBA and of the potential risk of damage to hearing.
4. Wear ear protectors: Wear ear protectors (earplugs or earmuffs ) if you are using noisy equipment such as power drills, saws, sanders, or lawn mowers, at work or at home.
5. Don’t ignore an ear infection: An ear infection is most often a bacterial or viral infection that affects the middle ear, the air-filled space behind the eardrum that contains the tiny vibrating bones of the ear. Ear infections are often painful because of inflammation and build-up of fluids in the middle ear. Long-term problems related to ear infections include persistent fluid in the middle ear, persistent or frequent infections that can cause hearing problems and other serious complications; therefore it is imperative never to ignore an ear infection.
6. Never put anything in your ear: Did you know that the most common cause of a perforated eardrum is from people putting foreign objects in their ears? The old adage never put anything smaller than your elbow into your ear is true. Do not use any objects, such as tissues, cotton swabs, or toothpicks, to clean the ear canal.
7. Don’t smoke: Studies have shown that smoking can affect your hearing. For example a study published by researchers in the UK last year found that giving up or reducing smoking, and avoiding passive exposure to tobacco smoke, may reduce your risk of hearing loss. Current smokers have a 15.1 per cent higher odds of hearing loss than non-smokers. The study also found that passive smoking increased the likelihood of hearing loss by 28 per cent.
8. Have a hearing detox: The NHS in the UK recommend giving your ears time to recover after they’ve been exposed to loud noise. According to Action on Hearing Loss in the UK, you need at least 16 hours of rest for your ears to recover after spending around two hours in 100dB sound, for example in a club. Reducing this recovery time increases the risk of permanent deafness.
9. Eat a healthy diet and keep fit: Eating healthy food and exercising well helps to avoid diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes, that, according to the WHO, can predispose you to the development of hearing loss.
10. If in doubt get it checked out: If you are worried about your hearing, or are affected by pain in your ears, contact your local Hidden Hearing branch to get it checked out. See www.hidde nhearing.ie.