Hearing isn’t something most people worry about. It’s just… there. It’s a sense we often take for granted because it’s been there since birth. It’s something that’s intrinsic to our daily lives and we depend on it in ways we aren’t always conscious of. For many people, hearing loss isn’t even a thought that crosses their minds. I know it didn’t for me.
I became deaf in my early 20s but I was already suffering from hearing loss as a child as young as 9 years old. It was partially caused by excessive wax buildup which then created damage to my ear canal. I ended up wearing hearing aids for most of my youth. They helped but, being young and stupid, I didn’t think it would or could get worse. Boy was I wrong!
One thing I want you all to be mindful of is sound or, more specifically, excess noise. Loud noise has been one of the most, if not the most, common causes of hearing loss, especially to the youth. This specific type of hearing loss is called Noise-Induced Hearing Loss. You’re probably thinking, “But I don’t go to concerts every weekend or hang around planes all the time or ride motorcycles, though.” Be that as it may, have you thought about your earbuds?
No, not some odd formation of flower shapes in the ears but the things you put in your ears to listen to music. I know you enjoy blasting tunes, even at a comfortable level, for hours on end on your day off or after school. But earbuds and loud music are more of a cause of hearing loss than you may have thought.
They’re like speakers in your ear canal. Because of how they fit in your ear, sound is traveling into your ear canal more efficiently than sound from old school headphones. And because of the human penchant to drown out background noises, we have a tendency to crank up the volume and listen for an hour or more. As mentioned earlier, this is especially true for preteens, teens and those just now entering adulthood. In fact, 1 in 5 teens suffer from some form of hearing loss.
If you have ringing in your ears, hear muffled sound or just have a harder time hearing than usual, go to your audiologist immediately.
Here are two ways that I know of to help prevent Noise-Induced Hearing Loss I’m relation to your earbud usage. The 60/60 rule states to use your earbuds at 60% volume for 60 minutes. Another way is to ditch the earbuds entirely and instead use old-fashioned headphones. They cover the ear and disperse sound to the entire ear instead of directly to the ear canal. The 60/60 rule still applies and, with headphones, helps to reduce your chances of hearing loss.
Remember, if others can hear your music, it’s time to turn it down. And if you don’t even notice it’s too loud, go to your audiologist immediately.