In this current era, we are constantly bombarded with stimuli be it visual or audio. Corporations, in an effort to chase endless revenue growth, have resorted to increasing their advertising budget to capture the wallets of consumers. The direct result of this is a society so accustomed to loud noises and bright lights invading their senses. Billboards display flashing lights to captivate our eyes. Loudspeakers blare the latest tracks from your favourite songwriters in cafes and shopping complexes. Even at home we are often surrounded by devices that seek to imprison our attention.
Sometimes all we seek is some peace and quiet
In a world with ever increasing noise levels, it is up to us to safeguard our hearing lest it be lost in due time. You probably already know someone who is hard of hearing. Maybe it is your grandmother or your younger sibling. Hearing loss does not discriminate and it can happen to anyone. The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that by 2050, around 2.5 billion people are expected to have some degree of hearing loss. That is less than 30 years away. Even more chilling is the fact that 1 billion young adults are at risk of permanent hearing loss. Fortunately, this form of hearing loss is entirely preventable with safe listening practices.
There are 3 things we can do to cultivate safe listening habits
Firstly, avoid noisy situations or surroundings with loud sounds. For example, if you are passing by a construction or renovation site, you may know how loud all those power tools can get. Staying too long near those places would inevitably lead to temporary hearing difficulties. Consistent exposure to such environments over a long period of time could very easily damage your hearing through noise - induced hearing loss. If, for some reason, you are unable to leave a noisy location, another thing you can opt for is to reduce the volume of the source of loud noise. You can try turning down the volume of the television, radio or loudspeaker that is responsible for that noise. Trust me, you may not feel the effects right now, but 20 or 30 years down the road, you will come to regret not taking better care of your hearing.
Secondly, you should always take short breaks when listening to loud sounds. If music is your hobby and you love to wear headphones, always remember to pause for several minutes every hour to give your ears a break. It is common knowledge that continuous use will result in wear and tear. Take your car for instance. After accumulating 100,000 km in mileage it is normal for your car to be in danger of breaking down more often. At least when that happens, you can always bring your car in for maintenance at the auto repair shop. If you damage your hearing permanently through long-term noise exposure, no mechanic or doctor in the world can return them to normal.
Now you might be wondering. What exactly can you do if you are in a situation in which you can neither leave, reduce the volume, nor take a break from all that noise. I mean, you can’t exactly leave work just because your workplace is too noisy. Generally speaking, in Malaysia, your employer is required to provide all workers with personal hearing protection should they be exposed to excessive noise at work under section 66 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (1994). Personal hearing protection otherwise known as hearing protection devices (HPD) is a class of equipment designed to help prevent noise induced hearing loss. They can be worn over on in the ears. Examples of such devices are protective earmuffs and earplugs. Protective earmuffs look similar to headphones and are usually made of plastic and foam that fasten to your head via an adjustable headband. But earmuffs are often disliked because they are big, bulky and can make your ears feel warm, especially in a tropical climate like ours.
Therefore, a viable alternative to earmuffs are earplugs. These are relatively inexpensive and are inserted directly into the ear canal. Two types of earplugs exist. Foam earplugs and pre-molded earplugs. Generally foam earplugs are soft and meant for one-time use only. On the other hand, pre-molded earplugs can be reused which is more cost-effective in the long term.
Here at 20dB hearing we offer a wide range of earplugs to suite your every need. Our line of Crescendo earplugs are manufactured with different activities in mind. We offer earplugs that are specialized for listening to music, sleeping, heavy industry and swimming. Consult our audiologist at any branch throughout Malaysia for more information or browse our selection now.
The problem with noise-induced hearing loss is that it takes away your hearing gradually. But because the damage from noise exposure develops slowly over time, you might not realize you have hearing loss until they become more severe. By then it is too late to reverse the effects. So, if there is anything I hope you will takeaway from today, it is that when it comes to your hearing, preventing noise exposure and practising safe listening habits should be cultivated to ensure good hearing into your golden years.
Patrick Seow, Clinical Audiologist at 20dB Hearing