For anyone lucky enough to have grown up with strong hearing, the idea of
having to use a hearing aid later in life may never have even registered.
However, a whole generation of today's young people could be facing the early
onset of hearing problems due to the loud noises they subject themselves to in
Extremely loud noises can
permanently damage the tiny hairs in the inner ear which
capture the sound vibrations before they are turned into electrical impulses for
the brain to process. But this does not have to be one, single sonic-boom like
explosion of sound - persistent exposure to loud noises can have a lasting
impact on these hairs and cause permanent degenerative hearing loss. Music from
increasingly-powerful headphones, loud gigs and club nights with more advanced
sound systems means that today's youth are seemingly more at risk than any other
generation of developing hearing problems due to excessive noise.
How much noise is too much, exactly? The volume of a sound is measured in
decibels, and if you are struggling to understand someone speaking in a normal
voice when standing just a few feet away because of the background noise, then
you're probably being exposed to more than 90 decibels. Frequently asking your
ear to process 90-decibel sounds can lead to permanent damage. That slight
ringing sound you have in your ears when you're trying to get to sleep? If
you're experiencing that a few times a week you're also doing damage.
Since avoiding clubs and gigs is not really an option in many social groups,
what can you do to reduce the chance of damage?
You may want to consider some discrete ear plugs. Most gigs are dark places and
the plugs can fit inside the canal so will be not be noticeable to most people,
yet will protect your ears.
Earphones which insert into the ear canal are increasingly popular in
partnership with a portable listening device. However, these are not very good
at keeping out background noise, meaning you have to turn up the volume to hear
your music. Over-ear headphones block out much more background noise, meaning
you can enjoy music at a level which is much kinder to your ears.
Reduce your exposure
As has been discussed above, repeated listening to moderately loud noise can a
lasting impact on your hearing, so consider whether you need to expose your ears
to this quite so regularly - give your ears some rest!
If you do become concerned about your hearing, however, do not ignore it -
there are many reasons why hearing loss can begin to develop, and early
diagnosis can, in some cases, avoid permanent damage. Booking a free hearing
test with a specialist such as Amplifon is advisable should you have any concern
about the health of your ears.