It's summer (safety) time -- are you inflicting hearing damage to yourself?
Maybe you like to blast your iPod at the gym or while you're out for a run (which is not only dangerous for your ears, but also for your life, as you should always be able to hear what's going on around you when you're out exercising, especially in traffic).
Or maybe you're taking in a summer concert or music festival. Don't forget those fireworks for the 4th of July. Heck, even a lawnmower can produce enough noise to hurt your ears.
According to experts, noise above 80 decibels can cause long-term hearing damage (fireworks, lawnmowers, ever traffic can be louder than 80 decibels).
The National Center for Health Statistics says that almost 15 percent of Americans below the age of 19 suffer from some measure of hearing loss, the signs of which include not being able to comprehend somebody talking from two feet away; hearing muffled speech; experiencing pain or ringing in the ears following exposure; and needing others to speak louder in conversation.
I should know, because one concert was all it took to damage my hearing permanently. In my case, I can pinpoint one concert in particular that had all the elements of a perfect (hearing loss) storm. The venue had low ceilings, was small (thus we were very near the stage and speakers), and whoever was in charge of the sound decided louder was better. At the time, I was in my 20s and felt invincible -- and far too cool for ear plugs. After that concert, my ears were ringing for days.
A doctor later confirmed that I had some damage, and I notice it mostly when surrounded by ambient noise and trying to talk to someone directly. In short, I hate parties because the sounds all around me make it so I can't hear the person talking directly to me.
I learned the hard way to use ear plugs at concerts. And lower my headphones when working out.
I've tried the foam ear plugs sold at most grocery stores and pharmacies, and they work in a pinch. But I go to enough concerts that I decided to get some I really like -- and that work. I found earlove, and $16 buys one pair, plus a carrying case and key chain. A small price to pay for preserved hearing.
What do you do to protect your hearing?
Image via darkpatator/Flickr