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How Can I Save My Hearing?

Headphones

Donít listen with headphones for more than an hour at 60% volume level Ė the duration of listening is just as dangerous as the volume level.

If you have to remove headphones to hear people talking, itís too loud. Turn it down!

At Work

Loud machinery: many people work in factories or around loud machines. Wear earplugs the entire time you work around this equipment. Even if you work in the office at a plant that uses loud machinery, small but frequent trips to the plant floor can add up over time. Use earplugs every time you enter the plant, even if you are just walking through.

Bars/clubs: staff at bars and clubs that play loud music or pack in large, noisy crowds should wear earplugs during their entire shift. The staff should also ask managers if they can have more frequent breaks or shorter shifts to make sure noise exposure is kept to a minimum. Patrons at these bars and clubs should also be aware of the dangers and take frequent breaks from the noise or only stay at the bar for short periods of time.

At Concerts

Take a break from a loud concert every 45 minutes or hour. Go outside or to a quieter area to give your ears a break.

Take a few days off after a loud event. (The damage done to the hair follicles in your ears are like grass blades. When you walk on grass the individual blades are bent and matted down. They blades will rise back up again in time if they are left alone, but if you continue to walk on the grass the blades will break and die Ė the same is true for the hair follicles in your ears.)

Wear earplugs at concerts, whether you are in the audience or the performer. Coldplay and Dave Matthews Band wear earplugs when they perform.

Musicians: wear earplugs at practice as well. Just because you donít have the amps turned up as loud as you do at shows doesnít mean your hearing isnít in danger. Plus you probably practice several times a week for at least an hour or more Ė remember, itís not just volume level, itís also duration. Not only will you be protecting your hearing, but you will get accustomed to wearing earplugs and what your music sounds like with them on, which will help you sound better at shows.

When trying to talk with a friend at a loud event, instead of screaming in their ear only inches away, push the tragus (the flap of cartilage in front of the external opening of the ear) to plug their ear (or have them do it if you donít want to touch their ear Ė some friends just arenít that close!) and closely but at a normal volume. They will be able to hear everything you say clearly, their risk of hearing damage will be lessened, and their ears wonít itch or ring after.

At Sporting Events

Nascar/auto racing: these automobiles are extremely loud and the races go on for hours. Whether you are cheering on the drivers or a driver yourself, you should wear earplugs to protect again the loud engines that echo through the racetrack.

Skeet shooting/hunting: any sport that involves the blasting of a gun poses a serious risk for hearing damage, not only for the person shooting the gun but also for the observers. At an average of 140 decibels, gunshots can cause immediate and permanent damage to your hearing. Always wearing earplugs when firing a gun or standing within 50 yards of firing line (in compliance with International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) Safety Manual).

Crowds

Whether itís the constant roar of a cheering crowd slowly wearing down hair follicles in your ears or that one drunk and overly-excited fanatic behind you, screaming directly in your ear Ė loud crowds can pose a risk to hearing. Make sure to let your ears rest for a few days after this noise exposure, or nicely ask the zealot behind you to take it easy (just donít insult his team!) or ask an usher if you can move seats.

Volume Test

Check to see how loud you are listening: Itís a beautiful summer day! You are cruising around in your car with friends. The windows are down and the stereo is up, LOUD! Now, leave the stereo at this level, roll up the window and turn the car off. Wait in this silence for a few minutes, then turn the car back on. If you jump when the music comes on you know you are listening way too loud. Sometimes you donít realize how loud you are listening because there are background noises or you get used to the loud volume so you turn it up after a while. Same goes with your home stereo.

Donít Smoke

Smoking adds to hearing loss Ė it reduces the strength of your cardiovascular system, which controls the blood flow in your body. If the blood supply to the nerves cells in your ears is poor, your hearing will suffer. Donít start or quit now!

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