October is National Protect Your Hearing Month

Photo credit: jonas mohamadi

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

Kentucky’s State-Journal reminds us that October is National Protect Your Hearing Month. As the article notes, hearing is an under-appreciated sense but hearing loss is quite common among both adults and children. There are many causes of hearing loss. Middle ear infections are a common cause for children, but the most common cause overall, especially for adults, is noise exposure.

Protecting one’s hearing is simple and inexpensive. One can use sound meter apps on a smartphone to measure ambient sound pressure levels. But the basic principle of hearing protection is very easy to remember: if it sounds loud, it’s too loud and your auditory health is at risk. Turn down the volume, leave the noisy environment or use hearing protection devices, like earplugs and earmuffs, to protect your ears. A more precise measure is whether one can converse easily. If one has to strain to speak or to hear what others are saying, the ambient sound pressure level is above 75 A-weighted* decibels, and one’s auditory health is at risk.

Hearing loss as we age is not part of normal physiological aging, but largely represents noise-induced hearing loss. Remember these basic principles, not just during National Protect Your Hearing Month, but all year long, and your hearing should remain good for your entire lifetime.

*A-weighting adjusts sound measurements to approximate the frequencies heard in human speech.

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