Most people have an idea of the type of sounds that are best avoided preserve the hearing and how to how to protect it (wearing earplugs around loud machinery, not listening to loud music, etc.). But there are still many ways you could be losing your hearing and not know it.
Here are just five things to watch out for to better preserve your hearing.
Aging and Genetics
Aging can play a role in hearing loss, especially if hearing loss runs in your family. A common form of hearing loss in older people is presbycusis, which comes on slowly and affects both ears. It tends to run in families, so talk to your doctor about it if your older relatives had hearing loss and you're having trouble hearing when you never have before.
Exposure to Loud Sounds when Traveling
You're definitely exposing yourself to a lot of loud noises if you like to travel. Airplane engines can reach sounds of 130 to 160 decibels, which is more than enough to damage your hearing, but even trains, semis, and other large vehicles may be too much for your ears.
Large trucks on the road create sounds of around 90 decibels and riding a motorcycle creates even louder decibels. This isn't as loud as an airplane, but anything over 80 decibels can damage your hearing. Also, keep your windows down when traveling on the highway or freeway as persistent wind noise can be a detriment to your ears.
Exposure to Loud Sounds While at Work
Depending on where you work, you could be doing a lot of damage to your hearing. Without protection, factory workers are likely to suffer hearing loss on the job since they spend most of their work day around machinery that generates 90 decibels of noise almost constantly.
Construction workers are also at risk of hearing loss for the same reasons. Even police officers, paramedics and fire fighters routinely suffer at least some hearing loss due to their close proximity to sirens that are loud enough to be heard for several blocks. Find out what other occupations are at greater risk.
Smoking and Drug Use
Drugs and tobacco may also cause someone to lose their hearing. A 2011 study by the American Academy of Audiology found that the regular use of heroin, benzodiazepine, alcohol and crack could lead to moderately severe hearing loss. Meanwhile, those who smoke at least a pack of cigarettes a day are far more likely to lose their hearing as they age than light smokers or non-smokers.
Listening to Music at Excessive Volumes
Loud music has always been attributed to hearing loss, but modern technology has made that a much bigger problem than in the past. A very loud car stereo produces can produce sounds of around 120 decibels, which is louder than the 100 decibels produced by a loud rock concert.
To make matters worse, many people today tend to listen to music with earbuds at that volume. Not only is this loud enough to damage your hearing, but it is being sent directly into your ears. Unhealthy noise exposure is increasingly common in the age of iPods, iPhones and other personal music, video, or gaming players.
To preserve your hearing, early prevention and taking preventative steps is key. Consult with an audiologist for regular exams and for changes in your hearing health.