People are surrounded by close noise more than ever. Although the majority of Americans no longer work in factories and other loud occupations like a century ago, we have come up with new methods to torture our ears with too much sound.
Your TV is too loud!
Noise-induced hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss (other types include congenital and disease-based). Typically, we think of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) as caused by prolonged exposure to incredibly loud noises, such as factories, construction sites, or rock concerts. While these are all big contributors to NIHL, smaller factors can cause it as well.
A too-loud TV is a sneaky culprit for NIHL. Years of listening to the television at high volumes can cause some serious damage. But how can you know if the TV is at a dangerous volume? Recently, a slew of phone apps have been developed that allow you to measure the decibels of your environmental noise and they will alert you if it is too loud. Check out db Volume Meter (iPhone), TooLoud? (iPhone), or deciBel (Android).
Another way to determine if your TV is too loud is to ask the people around you. If your Sunday football game or weekly crime show is loud enough that your family is complaining, you’d do best to turn it down a few notches. Not being able to hear the television is a common indicator of hearing loss, so if this situation sounds familiar you should get a hearing test right away.
Turn that music down!
One of the newer causes of NIHL, and most likely the reason for a rise in hearing loss among younger people, is the advent of iPods and other mp3 players. These musical devices feed noise directly into your ears, which is great for the people around you but not so great for your hearing.
It is easy to fall into a trap of listening to music that is way too loud. You’re walking down the street and the noise around you—buses, bikes, people talking—all make it harder to hear your music, so you turn up the volume. However, people all-too-often listen to music at top volume and it is seriously detrimental to your hearing.
So, how can you protect your hearing from the temptation to turn up the sound? Most mp3 players actually have a setting where you can lock the volume at a certain point, making it impossible to go louder than your chosen maximum. Take advantage of this!
Too-loud volume is a significant factor in developing noise-induced hearing loss. Try your best to keep the volume at a minimum, just loud enough for you to hear your television or your music, but not so loud that it bothers others or is almost painful. The usual methods of protecting your hearing, like earplugs, obviously don’t work when watching tv or listening to your iPod, so it’s up to you to control how much noise gets into your ears.