TURN DOWN THE SOUND
KESSLER INSTITUTE OFFERS TIPS ON PREVENTING HEARING LOSS
West Orange, NJ - The roar of a jet, the blare of a siren and even the blast of music from radios and media players are putting people of all ages — from toddlers to seniors –at risk for developing Noise-induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). It is estimated that 15 percent of Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 have some degree of hearing loss resulting from exposure to excessive noise at home, work or out in the community.
"Most people experience some degree of hearing loss as they age, but exposure to significant levels of noise over time can accelerate that process," explained Caryn Graboski, MS, CCC-SLP Kessler institute for Rehabilitation, West Orange. "We know that NIHL results from regular exposure to intense sounds – those about 85 decibels (dB) - which includes lawn mowers, power tools, motorcycles, and even hair dryers. And while hearing loss cannot be reversed, steps can be taken to protect your ears and minimize damage."
Studies show that hearing loss impacts the ability to communicate and can have a profound effect on people's lives. Such loss can impact personal and professional relationships, as well as academic achievement and career advancement. In severe cases, it can even result in depression and withdrawal from society.
"The effects of hearing loss can dramatically change a person's life, which is why it is so important for people to take precautionary measures whenever possible," said Pam Tamulevicius, MS, CCC-SLP, at Kessler's Chester campus.
To help minimize the effects of Noise Induced Hearing Loss, Kessler Institute offers the following tips:
- Understand the types of noises that can cause damage, particularly those above 85 decibels.
- Avoid situations where noises are too loud, too long or too close.
- Wear protective earplugs when attending sporting events or music concerts, or when using certain machinery or equipment, such as lawn mowers, motorcycles, machinery, and leaf blowers.
- Take a "quiet" break, particularly when at noisy restaurants, concerts, parties or other loud places.
- If necessary, use specially-designed earmuffs or earphones in the workplace.
- Be alert for hazardous noises in the environment, such as sirens or alarms. If necessary, plug your ears with your fingers when an ambulance or fire engine passes.
- Lower the volume when listening to iPods, MP3 players, radios, televisions or other electronic devices. You should still be able to hear people or street noise above the music.
- When purchasing headphones or earbuds, look for models with volume limiters and noise cancellation features.
- Protect the ears of children who are too young to do so themselves.
"Symptoms of NIHL can increase gradually over time, so it's important to be aware of any changes in your ability to hear things clearly, particularly when communicating with others" said Monica Bucenec, MS, CCC-SLP, Kessler, Saddle Brook campus.
You may have a hearing loss if you:
- Frequently ask people to repeat themselves.
- Misunderstand what people are saying and respond inappropriately.
- Understand people better when you look directly at their face.
- Have trouble hearing when on the phone, in a noisy room or when more than two people are talking.
- Experience ringing in your ears.
- Keep the radio and television at a volume level that others think is too loud.
If hearing loss is suspected, it's recommended that individuals have a medical examination and see an otolaryngologist or audiologist for a hearing test.