Summer Is a Time for Play (and Protection)

By Morgan Leppla

“The best offense is one that does not trigger any defense,” says Daniel Gilbert, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Harvard University.

Gilbert says humans are not hardwired to think long term. When people don’t see a threat as immediate, they are not inclined to take action to mitigate it. This psychological phenomenon is why it’s easy to forego protective measures that’ll make a difference in the long run, especially during one of the most fun-filled times of the year: SUMMER!

With its blaring tunes and crackling fireworks, it makes sense that summer excitement distracts us from remembering the permanent effect of noise on our ears. Loud sounds are more insidious than one might expect. This is in spite of the fact that noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) can happen at any age, to any race, gender, etc. Hearing loss from all causes is a growing epidemic, affecting nearly 50 million Americans.

Sound volume, length of time listening, and repeated exposure to loudness all can lead to NIHL. One extremely loud sound can cause it, but so can exposure to softer (but still dangerous) sounds over an extended period. To put that into tangible terms, a single loud sound may be a shotgun going off right next to you, while sounds that may damage hearing more slowly are repeated exposure to heavy city traffic, music listened to at a high volume using earbuds, or even regular use of a hairdryer!


So, with all of these potential threats to hearing, what is there to do?

Here is the trinity of protection: WALK away from loud sounds, BLOCK loud sounds with ear protection, and TURN the volume down (when you can control it). These simple actions can have a major impact on your long-term hearing health.

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