April 27th 2022 is International Noise Awareness Day and for us, it's a great opportunity to educate the community about the importance of caring for your hearing.
Our ears are pretty incredible. For such a tiny part of our body, they are responsible for 40% of our sensory information, as well as balance and languages. Ears are made up of many small bones and tiny, delicate hairs that can easily be damaged if we don't take care to protect them. Exposure to loud noise, especially over time, can cause permanent hearing loss. This is something that can be prevented with the proper care. Below are a few ways to care for your ears and your hearing.
1. Keep the volume down.When listening to audio, especially through ear buds, keep your volume at 60% for no more than 60 minutes at a time. Listening to loud noise for extended periods of time can damage the fine hairs inside of your ear, causing permanent hearing loss.
2. Use hearing protectionwhen you can't control the volume, like when you attend a concert, or use a leaf blower. Whether you use foam earplugs or headphones, this puts a barrier in front of your ears so they are protected from the noise.
3. Allow your ears time to recoverafter being exposed to loud noises. Research suggests being in a quiet environment for 16 hours after noise exposure is the most beneficial to prevent permanent damage.
4. Don't use cotton swabs! Your ears are self cleaning - that's what the wax is for. If you want to clean your ears, use a washcloth to gently wipe the outside of your ears. Excessive wax buildup may mean you need to see a doctor.
5. Keep your ears dry.Towel dry your ears after swimming or showering as wet ears can lead to infection. If water is still in your ear canal, gently pull on your earlobe and tip your ear to ease it out.
6. Manage your stress levelsin a healthy way. High stress levels can increase your blood pressure, which may in turn lead to tinnitus. Set time aside to care for your mind and body by exercising, practicing meditation, and eating healthy.
7. Get your hearing tested regularly!Having a baseline assessment as well as follow ups allows you to see how your hearing may change over time. Catching hearing issues early can help prevent further loss and damage.