How Do We Protect Our Hearing
Our hearing is one of the most important senses and is vital for carrying out day-to-day activities. However, it should be realized that our hearing is exposed to dangers on a daily basis which can potentially harm it irreversibly. Before we proceed to look at how we should be protecting our hearing, it is better to understand the potential dangers and sources of hazards.
WHAT CAN CAUSE HEARING DAMAGE?
The most common and major causes of hearing abnormalities are:
- Noise induced damage to our ears
- Drugs administration which are toxic to our ears (Ototoxic drugs)
- Certain viral and bacterial diseases which involve the ear
- Direct injury to ear
AVOIDING NOISE INDUCED DAMAGE TO EAR
Our brain perceives sound when it receives impulses from the cochlea in our ears, which is the main organ for sound reception. The cochlea has fluid which vibrates when sound is received and this causes the hair cells in the cochlea to rock back and forth with the fluid. Loud sounds or noise cause excessive vibrations to these hair cells which can damage them irreversibly. People mostly do not realize that the loud sounds we are exposed to in our daily lives are potentially ear damaging. These include the sound of electrical appliances, lawn mower, loud music in the night clubs and concerts, occupational noises etc. Thus the first step in protecting our hearing is to know about the different sources that are harmful to our ears.
The music we listen to on our MP3 players should be played at a suitable volume. You can use reference from background sounds of the surroundings while using earphones. If the music sound completely masks the background sounds, you are probably playing the music too loudly. Using headphones instead of earphones provides better quality of sound at lower volumes. Listening to music in the car at half volume instead of maximum is a very healthy practice and can prevent damage to your ears in the long run.
Noises at work especially loud ones are very harmful to the ears. We should take special care to avoid this damage. This can be done by reporting to your higher authorities at work about the noise levels in your work environment and see if something can be done about it. If unavoidable, using personal hearing plugs to protect our ears is very helpful in preventing our ears to be exposed to damaging noise levels.
Similarly using quieter appliances at home or using ear plugs while working near loud appliances can avoid damage to the ears.
If you suspect hearing damage after being exposed to loud sounds, you should immediately see a doctor about it.
AVOIDING DAMAGE CAUSED BY DRUGS
Common drugs such as aspirin and antimalarial drugs are potentially ear damaging. Ear damage by drugs can be prevented by having a good knowledge of the side-effects of the medicines you are taking and reporting to doctor if you suspect hearing loss while taking these drugs.
Avoiding these drugs by finding alternatives can also be an option.
AVOIDING DISEASES WHICH CAUSE EAR DAMAGE
Common diseases like measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, meningitis and syphilis are potentially ear damaging.
Avoiding these diseases is the foremost step and it can be done by vaccination of babies against these diseases. STDS like syphilis could be avoided by the use of condoms.
If you suspect these diseases, early diagnosis by prompt reporting to the doctor and treatment is the best way to avoid ear damage.
AVOIDING DIRECT INJURY TO EAR
Head injuries often result in hearing abnormalities because they can damage ears. To avoid these, wearing a helmet while playing baseball or riding a bicycle are examples of protective measures.
Otitic barotraumas, which is damage caused to ears by sudden change in air pressure is a potential hazard of scuba diving. Necessary precautions against this with the help of trained instructors should be utilized to prevent damage to hearing.