NIHL

Prevent the Preventable

By Neyeah Watson

International Noise Awareness Day (INAD) is observed annually on April 24 to redirect our focus to the invisible: hearing loss caused by noise, or noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). More than 48 million Americans live with a form of hearing loss, and one third of all hearing loss cases can be attributed to noise exposure. In honor of INAD, sponsored by the Center for Hearing and Communication, Hearing Health Foundation (HHF) urges the public to zealously protect the hearing of adults and children from the dangers of loud noise.

Loud noise can harm from exposure to one sudden, disturbing, blast-like sound (an impulse noise) or a series of loud sounds over time. Impulse noises include fireworks, explosions, car horns, gunfire, and thunder. These noises reach the outer ears unexpectedly before conversion to sound, sometimes causing immediate trauma and NIHL.

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Gradual NIHL, on the other hand, occurs over time. Sources include loud music and occupational sounds from construction sites or airport runways. Gradual NIHL can also result from hobbies, like playing in a band, attending group fitness classes, and snowmobile riding.

The irreversible damage of NIHL physically takes place when hair cells within the cochlea of the inner ear are damaged. This results in what’s called sensorineural (permanent) hearing loss.

Fortunately, NIHL is 100% preventable. For adults, protecting your ears doesn’t require a lot of effort. When going about your busy lifestyle, keep these simple techniques in mind.

  • Always keep a pair of earplugs with you. Whether you ride public transportation as a passenger or employee, loud noises accompany you on your commute.

  • Purchase noise-cancelling headphones, which are safer for your ears because they prevent the user from needing to raise the volume to block out external sounds.

  • Listen to music and television at medium volumes.

  • Most importantly—give your ears time to recover. Quiet time is one of the best healing experience you can give to your ears.

Protecting your children’s hearing is easy, and begins in the home. Here’s what you can do:

  • Practice the 60/60 rule: Only listen to music at 60% of the volume for 60 minutes.

  • Inspire their preference for quiet toys such as puzzles, dolls, coloring books, and building blocks. When considering electronic toys, look for for products with volume control settings.

  • Set the TV or game consoles to reasonable volumes.

  • Make sure your child does not sit too close to the television or other noisy electronics.

  • Use plush furnishings such as curtains, carpeting, and pillows to allow for sound to be absorbed.

  • Always set an example for your children. Your use of earplugs and low volumes will allow your children to learn a behavior that will become part of their hearing lifestyle.

Life’s enjoyments don’t necessarily need to be limited by diminished hearing. We all have the power to protect our ears.



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Hearing Better Through the Ages

By Rebecca Huzzy, Au.D.

Chances are, you visit your doctor for an annual physical, wear a seatbelt, and use sunscreen. These are just a few small efforts we regularly make to stay healthy and injury-free.

Tending to the health of our hearing is another important, simple way we can maintain our overall physical and emotional well-being. Supporting hearing health begins at birth, when we test newborns for hearing loss, and continues into our elder years, when assistive technology can vastly improve overall health and quality of life.

Diagnosing Newborns & Infants

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hearing loss is one of the most common congenital conditions, impacting approximately 12,000 infants per year. About half of these cases are linked to certain genetic syndromes, such as Down syndrome, Treacher Collins, and Usher syndrome.

But with the advent of universal newborn hearing screening programs in the early 1990s, hearing loss can now be identified and treated very early. According to what we call the “1-3-6” EHDI (Early Hearing Detection and Intervention) national goals, infants should be screened by age 1 month; diagnosed by age 3 months; and in an early intervention program by age 6 months.

“The effects of providing acoustic stimulation to the immature neurological system, including the brain, and combining the input with a rich and meaningful environmental experience, allows children to develop sufficient auditory skills to learn spoken language at a very young age,” says Janice C. Gatty, Ed.D., the director of Child & Family Services at Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech.

This means families should expose their infants to sound frequently and consistently—talking to them, naming objects, narrating actions, singing, and reading books. With access to sound and an early intervention program at this young age, a child with hearing loss can begin learning to listen, babble, and eventually talk.

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Common Risks for Adolescents & Teens

Since the prevailing cause of hearing loss in young people with typical hearing is noise exposure, we need to educate kids early, as many begin listening to music on personal devices, playing in bands, and attending concerts at a young age.

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, exposure to sound that is higher than 85 decibels (the volume of a blender, hair dryer, or siren) for an extended period of time can cause permanent hearing damage. And the maximum output of most MP3 players is a powerful 110 decibels!

Fortunately, there are options for volume-limiting software that can mitigate unhealthy sound levels. Many devices offer parental controls and volume-controlling apps that limit noise levels, and there are various kid-friendly, hearing-healthy headphones available.

Follow the 80/90 rule: Set the maximum headphone volume to be 80 percent (not 100 percent), and listen for up to 90 minutes daily. If you listen for longer, lower the volume even more.

How Sound Exposure Catches Up With Us in Middle Age

“Adult onset hearing loss typically progresses slowly over the course of a number of years,” says audiologist John Mazzeo, Au.D., the audiology supervisor at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware.

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) can have a sneaky, cumulative effect, similar to the impact of years of exposure to the sun. The people at the highest risk for NIHL work in noisy professions and include musicians, farmers, dentists, airport workers, and military service members. For those who spend time in loud environments, wearing hearing protection is the best way to guard against NIHL.

Ototoxic drugs (drugs harmful to hearing) and certain conditions, such as Ménière’s disease, can also contribute to progressive hearing loss over time. Regular screenings, prior to the recommended age of 50, are especially important if hearing loss runs in the family, or if you have symptoms associated with hearing loss, such as tinnitus, dizziness, or a perceived decrease in hearing.

Caring for Seniors as Hearing Abilities Change

Hearing loss becomes much more prevalent with age, affecting more than 30 percent of people over age 65, and 80 percent of adults over 80.

Hearing loss in seniors is linked to serious health conditions, including dementia. When communication is difficult, many people will avoid social situations, and research shows that social isolation is linked to cognitive decline, a key symptom of dementia. Additionally, difficulty hearing can impact the effectiveness of our other neural processes.

The risk of falls also becomes more likely with age, due to both decreased spatial awareness and increased cognitive load. A 2012 Johns Hopkins study found that older adults with mild hearing loss were nearly three times more likely to have a history of falling.

Staying Fit

If you’re diagnosed with a hearing loss, remember: Hearing loss is not only very common, it’s also very treatable! A licensed audiologist or hearing healthcare professional can discuss options with you, including hearing aids and assistive listening devices.

When it’s a loved one struggling to hear, or being stubborn about getting help, be patient. Gain their attention before talking, rephrase sentences instead of repeating them, and encourage trying out some kind of amplification.

Think of your hearing health as essential to your body’s complete performance. Our bodily systems are all interconnected; neglecting to protect our ears or refusing helpful interventions can have cascading health effects. When you take even small steps to protect your hearing health and that of loved ones, such as through regular hearing screenings and using earplugs in noisy environments, take heart in knowing you have bolstered your overall well-being.

Rebecca Huzzy, Au.D., CCC-A, is an educational audiologist at Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech at its Philadelphia location and a clinical audiologist at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware. For more, see clarkeschools.org. This article also appeared in the Spring 2018 issue of Hearing Health magazine. For references, see hhf.org/spring2018-references.

Receive updates on life-changing hearing research and resources by subscribing to HHF's free quarterly magazine and e-newsletter.

 
 
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Let’s Make Noise Safer

By Vicky Chan

April 25 is International Noise Awareness Day, an annual, vital reminder to take a stand against noise exposure and to spread awareness about the underestimated threat of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Seemingly harmless rhythms, roars, and blasts heard daily from music, trains, and machinery are, in fact, among the top offenders of NIHL.

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) progressively occurs after chronic exposure to loud sounds. The frequency and intensity of the sound level, measured in decibels (dB), increases the risk of NIHL. Gradual hearing loss can result from prolonged contact with noise levels of 85 dB or greater, such as heavy city traffic. Noises of 110 dB or more, like construction (110 dB), an ambulance (120dB), or the pop of firecrackers (140-165 dB) can damage one’s hearing in a minute’s time.

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NIHL is the only type of hearing loss that is completely preventable, yet billions of individuals endanger themselves daily. Over 1.1 billion young adults ages 12 to 35—an age group that frequently uses headphones to listen to music—are at risk. Already, an estimated 12.5% of young people ages of 6 to 19 have hearing loss as a result of using earbuds or headphones at a high volume. A device playing at maximum volume (105 dB) is dangerous, so exposure to sounds at 100 dB for more than 15 minutes is highly discouraged.

Most major cities around the world have transit systems that put commuters in contact with sounds at 110 dB. BBC News found that London’s transit systems can get as loud as 110 dB, which is louder than a nearby helicopter taking off. The sound levels of some stations exceed the threshold for which occupational hearing protection is legally required. New York City has one of the largest and oldest subway systems in the world where 91% of commuters exceed the recommended levels of noise exposure annually. In a study on Toronto’s subway system, 20% of intermittent bursts of impulse noises were greater than 114 dB.

People who work in certain fields are more vulnerable to NIHL than others. Professional musicians, for instance, are almost four times as likely to develop NIHL than the general public. Military personnel, who are in extremely close proximity to gunfire and blasts, are more likely to return home from combat with hearing loss and/or tinnitus than any other type of injury. And airport ground staff are surrounded by high-frequency aircraft noises at 140 dB. In all of these professions, the hazard of NIHL can be significantly mitigated with hearing protection.

NIHL is permanent. Increased exposure to excess noise destroys the sensory cells in the inner ears (hair cells), which decreases hearing capacity and leads to hearing loss. Once damaged, the sensory cells cannot be restored. To find a solution, Hearing Health Foundation’s (HHF) Hearing Restoration Project (HRP) conducts groundbreaking research on inner ear hair cell regeneration in hopes of discovering a life-changing cure.

Nearly three-quarters of those who are exposed to loud noises rarely or never use hearing protection. It is our dream that someday, NIHL will be reversible as a result of the HRP. Until then, to make noise safer, HHF advises protection by remembering to Block, Walk, and Turn. Block out noises by wearing earplugs or protective earmuffs. Walk away or limit exposure to high-levels of noises. Turn down the volume of electronic devices.

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5 Critical Facts About Hearing Protection

By Laura Friedman

October is National Protect Your Hearing Month. How many of these facts from Hearing Health Foundation (HHF) do you know?

Fact #1: Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is acquired from excessive noise

  • ~30 million U.S. workers are exposed to hazardous noise levels on the job

  • Nearly 1 in 5 American teenagers are expected to acquire hearing loss largely due to overexposure of loud sounds

  • 25% of Americans age 65-74 and nearly 50% of those 75+ have disabling hearing loss

  • Approximately two-thirds of service members and veterans have NIHL or tinnitus, or both

  • Many veterans also have processing disorders as a result of blast or high noise exposure

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Fact #2: NIHL is preventable. The measures needed to prevent NIHL are simple: “Walk, Block, and Turn. Walk away from the sound source, block your ears using ear plugs, and turn down the volume,” advises Nadine Dehgan, HHF’s CEO.

Fact #3: Musicians are 57% more likely to experience tinnitus and are almost four times more likely to develop NIHL than the general public. Sound onstage can reach up to 110 decibels (dB), the equivalent of a jackhammer. Prolonged exposure to loud noise causes hair cells of the inner ear to be damaged, leading to permanent hearing loss.

Fact #4: A portable listening device at maximum volume (105 dB) is louder than heavy city traffic, drills, noisy subway platform and equal to a table saw. Blasting the volume in earbuds hurts hearing. It is estimated that 20% of teenagers, an age group that frequently uses portable listening devices, will suffer from hearing loss from overexposure to noise.

Fact #5: Steps to identify and prevent hearing loss should begin at birth. In 1993, only 5% of newborns were tested for hearing loss at birth. Thanks to HHF’s instrumental role in passing Universal Newborn Hearing Screening legislation, today that number is 97%. Early detection and intervention helps diminish or even eliminate negative impacts of undetected hearing loss on social, academic and emotional development in children with hearing loss.

Receive updates on life-changing hearing research and resources by subscribing to HHF's free quarterly magazine and e-newsletter.

 
 
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Paying Tribute on Armed Forces Day

By Siera Whitaker

May 20 is Armed Forces Day and Hearing Health Foundation is paying tribute to the men and women who serve in our armed forces.

The number one and two war wounds for active service members and veterans are hearing loss and tinnitus, directly impacting their ability to conduct missions and follow instructions. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, by the end of 2014 over 933,000 veterans received disability compensation as a result of hearing loss, and about 1.3 million received compensation for tinnitus.

Extended, unprotected exposure to noise that reaches 85 decibels (the sound of a lawnmower) or higher can cause permanent inner ear damage. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states difficulty with hearing is the third most commonly reported chronic health condition in the U.S.; approximately 40 million Americans ages 20 to 69 have hearing loss in one or both ears, and one main cause is excessive, loud noise.

When it comes to hearing loss and tinnitus, soldiers are at an increased risk. They are susceptible to noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) because they are exposed to loud machinery and explosions on a constant basis. In combat, soldiers are often exposed to sudden noises, such as from an improvised explosive device (IED) or other similar weapon, which are difficult to predict and be protected against. These sudden noises can result in temporary hearing loss and put military personnel at risk. However, the word “temporary” should be approached with caution. Repeated short-term hearing loss can damage the sensitive hair cells in the inner ear, leading to hearing loss that becomes permanent.

Hearing loss as a result of noise is 100 percent preventable. Wearing hearing protection such as noise attenuating helmets, which use ear cups to protect against hazardous sound, or Tactical Communication and Protective Systems (TCAPS), can go a long way to reduce overall exposure.

Since these brave men and women are disproportionately impacted by hearing loss and tinnitus that likely affects many other aspects of their lives, Hearing Health Foundation is proud to pay tribute to them on Armed Forces Day. If you are a veteran, current service member, or have family or friends who have bravely served our country, please check out our veterans' resources and share your story about hearing loss or tinnitus with us.

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Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Affects More Than 50% Not in Noisy Jobs

By Yishane Lee

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made an announcement Feb. 7 on the dangers of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Among the many statistics cited, the CDC says:

  • 40 million U.S. adults ages 20 to 79 have NIHL

  • More than half (21 million) with hearing damage do not have noisy jobs

  • One in four U.S. adults who say they have good or excellent hearing actually show hearing damage

  • Hearing loss is the third most common chronic health condition in the U.S.

  • People report hearing loss at a rate nearly double of those reporting diabetes or cancer

The CDC says its latest Vital Signs report, using data from more than 3,500 hearing tests in the 2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), shows “much of this [hearing] damage is from loud sounds encountered during everyday activities at home and in the community,” such as using a leaf blower or going to a loud concert without hearing protection. Nearly three-quarters of those who are exposed to loud noises never or rarely use hearing protection, the report says.

According to the press release, CDC researchers “found that 20 percent of people who reported no job-related noise exposure had hearing damage in a pattern usually caused by noise. This damage—shown by a distinctive drop in the ability to hear high-pitched sounds—appeared as early as age 20.” But it added that while a few studies have linked noise exposure among young people to the use of portable devices and entertainment venues, more research is needed to determine the relationship between this type of early noise exposure and hearing loss in older age.

Untreated hearing loss is linked with anxiety, depression, loneliness, and stress, the CDC says. In addition to causing hearing loss, chronic noise exposure can worsen heart disease and increase blood pressure, among other adverse health effects.

But don’t forget, noise is the only fully preventable cause of hearing loss.

Please see HHF’s resources on NIHL here, as well as our Summer 2015 cover story about NIHL. Taking care of your hearing should always be part of your overall health. If you suspect a hearing loss, get your hearing checked, and if you do have a hearing loss, get it treated. Avoid noisy areas, and wear protective earplugs or stronger when you need them in noisy environments. Download the CDC’s fact sheet here.

Receive updates on life-changing hearing research and resources by subscribing to HHF's free quarterly magazine and e-newsletter.

 
 
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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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Walk, Block, and Turn!

By Maggie Niu

April 27 is International Noise Awareness Day (INAD), a day dedicated to encouraging people to “do something about bothersome noise where they work, live, and play.”

Every day in our environment we experience sound, whether it’s pleasant, like music, or bothersome, like sirens. Unpleasant or unwanted noisy environments can be dreadful; not only can noise increase our stress level and inhibit us from carrying out daily tasks, but also in the long run overexposure to noise can damage our hearing. This is known as noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). All too often, we become immune to the constant hum of traffic (about 85 decibels, or dB) and noisy subway stations (95 dB). The Safe and Sound safe listening levels chart, on the left, details the effects of various decibel levels on our ears.

There are two causes of NIHL. One is impulse noise, a one-time exposure to a loud sound such as an explosion. This can cause temporary and/or permanent hearing loss. The other cause of NIHL is continuous exposure to loud noise. This type of hearing loss happens gradually over time.

NIHL affects our inner-ear hair cells (the cells that help us hear) as well as the auditory or hearing nerve. Not only can this type of hearing loss be permanent, it can also lead to tinnitus. Tinnitus is hearing a constant ringing, buzzing, or roaring without an external sound source. It can be in one or both ears and often occurs with hearing loss.

 

Now the question is: How do we protect ourselves from NIHL? It can be as easy as remembering to Walk, Block, and Turn! Walk away from loud sounds. Block noise by wearing earplugs or other hearing protective devices. Turn the volume down on stereos and personal music devices. If you work in a noisy environment, take proper measures to protect your ears by wearing ear plugs or ear muffs. Being able to hear is important for daily interactions and often taken for granted until it's too late.

To learn more about Hearing Health Foundation's Safe and Sound program, please email development@hhf.org.

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Fly

By Chill Kechil

Chill Kechil is a Les Paul Ambassador, helping to educate musicians and others about the risks of noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus. The New Jersey-based DJ and composer recently released two versions of a song, “Fly,” featuring vocals by Shakila Azhar, in addition to two holiday songs. He is donating a portion of their sales to Hearing Health Foundation

As a person with hearing loss, he has made adjustments in order to compose and perform. Here, he talks about the genesis for the songs and what he likes in music.

My latest collaboration is with Shakila Azhar. She is a singer who lives in Singapore, and she happens to be my wife’s cousin. She flies in airplanes for a living and sings at her company’s events. My wife told me Shakila has a killer voice, so when I finally met her we talked about doing a song together. 

Through this song I wanted to capture the spirit of flying, along with her soulful vocals. We recorded “Fly” over a few hours, when she had a stopover in New York City, but I’ll admit it took me almost a year to finish the production.  I hadn’t worked with live vocals before, and I wanted it to be perfect so I really took my time about getting it right. I was also using a new version of my music production software. Shakila’s improvised vocals and lyrics added real soul to the song. 

There are two versions available, a dance version, and a deep house version. I realize now that there could be a connection between my high frequency hearing loss, making it hard to hear higher pitches, and my love for deep house music, which has heavy kick drum beats and a deep bass line. Actually it’s funny, but the idea for the bass line in the deep house version of “Fly” came about while I was doing a holiday song based on Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from “The Nutcracker.” 

But it’s not just the deep sounds that I like in my music. The tune should be very melodic. I like women’s vocals floating over the top, and instead of typical three note chords, I like to use four or five notes in each chord like in jazz music (another of my favorite genres). House music combines all of these things—deep sounds, melodic vocals, and rich chords. The software just changes the entire production of a song, letting me visualize the notes and chords while composing. It brings hundreds of instruments to my fingertips.   

When it comes to curating songs for internet radio stations or creating a DJ set, most have kind of a danceable beat. My preferences are really chill, lounge beats and house music that can flow smoothly together from one song to the next. You can say I live up to my Chill Kechil name because most of the songs I produce or play have this chill, danceable beat to them.

Protecting my hearing by covering my ears is always a priority. The headphones I wear for DJing have to isolate the sound from the mixer while also protecting my ears from the ambient sound and noise. This way, I don’t have to turn the volume up as much when I’m mixing a DJ set. The headphones make the bass sound warmer, while reducing the higher frequencies that can hurt the ears and lead to ear fatigue. I always try to be careful by allowing my ears to rest at least a week between DJ gigs, and to check my smartphone’s decibel meter for loudness when catching other DJ or music acts. And, of course it goes without saying... I always have my earplugs handy.

He DJs regularly at Skinny Bar & Lounge on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Look for him on open turntable nights. Read more about Chill Kechil and his music in Hearing Health's Spring 2015 article here.

Chill Kechil believes in the mission of HHF and its search for a cure for
hearing lossand tinnitus. He is donating a portion of sales of
“Fly" and the
holiday songs “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" and “Carol of the Bells” to HHF.
Visit
chillkechil.com to listen to samples and purchase.

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HHF Celebrates National Protect Your Hearing Month

By Emily Shepard

October marks National Protect Your Hearing Month, part of the American Academy of Audiology’s (AAA) campaign to raise public awareness about hearing protection. Through extensive research and programming such as the Safe and Sound Program, Hearing Health Foundation has contributed greatly to this awareness. To celebrate National Protect Your Hearing Month, HHF has compiled a list of 5 Must Know Facts about Hearing Loss Prevention.

Fact #1: Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) can be contracted in a variety of environments.  Around 30 million U.S. workers are exposed to hazardous noise levels. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) reports that 26 million Americans between the ages of 20 and 69- around 15% of the population- have NIHL due to exposure to loud sounds or noise at work or in leisure activities. 60% of military service members have NIHL or tinnitus, or both. Given this huge percentage, it’s unsurprising that active and veteran service members rank hearing loss and tinnitus as their top health concern.  

Fact #2: NIHL is the most preventable type of hearing loss. The measures needed to prevent NIHL are easy and simple. Just remember the following three words: Walk, Block, and Turn. When exposed to loud sounds, walk away. Block noise by wearing earplugs or other hearing protective devices when involved in a loud activity. Turn down the sound on stereos and mp3 devices. These are some of many ways you can help protect your hearing. Ultimately, the idea is to keep an eye (or an ear) on noises that seem hazardous or alarming.   “For more information about how to protect your hearing, please visit our partner’s page, It’s a Noisy Planet. Protect Their Hearing®.

Fact #3:  Half of classical orchestral musicians experience hearing loss. But that doesn’t mean you should! As stated in our blog post, “The Danger From Noise When It Is Actually Music”, musicians practice or perform up to eight hours a day. Sound levels onstage can reach up to 110 decibels (dB), the equivalent of a jackhammer! Prolonged exposure to 85 dB (the sound of heavy traffic), causes hair cells of the inner ear to be permanently damaged and can lead to hearing loss. With an 85 dB minimum for this risk, musicians exposed to jackhammer-levels are in dangerous territory. Attending an orchestra show or any other musically-vibrant production may not put you at the same risk of musicians, but it is still important to take cautionary measures. Find a seat that isn’t too close to the front of the stage and bring earplugs in case the music gets too loud. If the sound becomes especially loud, it might be worthwhile to leave early. Since soundtracks and recordings of shows are often available for purchase, there’s no need to stay out of fear of missing out. Remember, safety should always come first.  

Fact #4: What commonly used portable device is louder than a hair dryer, dishwasher, heavy city traffic, and a subway platform? The correct answer is an MP3 player at maximum volume (105 dB). Listening to your favorite artists or podcasts on blast may seem like a thrill, but there’s nothing fun about subjecting your ears to hazardous noise levels. 1 in 5 teenagers, an age group that frequently uses MP3 players, suffer from hearing loss. The Palo Alto Medical Foundation reports that 12.5% of kids between the ages of 6 and 19 suffer from loss of hearing as a result of using ear phones or earbuds turned to a high volume. So to play it safe, HHF suggests no more than 15 minutes of unprotected exposure at or above 100 decibels.  

Fact #5: Steps to prevent hearing loss should begin the moment someone is born. In 1993, only 5% of newborns were tested at birth for hearing loss. Thanks to HHF’s instrumental role in establishing Universal Newborn Hearing Screening legislation, this percentage increased dramatically. By 2007, 94% of newborns were tested. Early detection of hearing impairments in infants can help to diminish or even eliminate negative impacts that would otherwise harm their future development. Therefore it is important to screen infants for hearing impairments, preferably before they are discharged from the hospital. You can learn about the different types of tests hospitals use to screen infants here.  

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