What are your favorite leisure activities? If you like to read in the quiet of your own home, take a walk in the woods, or meditate, then you likely don’t need to worry about protecting your hearing during times of leisure. However, many leisure activities come with some risks to your hearing, and these risks might surprise you. If you like to go to loud concerts or dance clubs, you might be prepared to protect your hearing, but other leisure activities can pose a threat to your hearing health, as well. Whether you like to attend sporting events, go to a shooting range, ride recreational vehicles, or simply listen to music on headphones, each of these leisure activities can be a source of dangerous sound. The first step is to identify the sources of leisure noise, and the next step is to know what you can do to prevent hearing damage. Let’s consider some of the sources of leisure noise and then take a closer look at the ways to protect yourself.
Sources of Leisure Noise
Loud concerts and dance clubs are not the only sources of leisure noise. In fact, these activities are well-known causes of hearing damage, so you might be more prepared to protect yourself. The other common sources of leisure noise can be more surprising, so it is even more important to come prepared with hearing protection. If you enjoy sporting events, you might know how loud the roar of the crowd can become when the action is exciting. The players and staff at sporting arenas are at a high risk of hearing damage, as well. If you go to the shooting range, it is likely that the staff will require you to wear noise-canceling earmuffs or other hearing protection, but outdoor shooting practice and hunting can be dangerous for your hearing, as well. If you like to ride recreational vehicles, a short stint might be safe for your hearing. However, a full day of continuous riding can be enough to harm your hearing if you aren’t wearing protection. Even your headphones or earbuds can cause damage to your hearing when they are used at a high volume or for a very long time. Noise-induced hearing loss occurs through a combination of volume and duration, so using your devices at a moderately loud volume for an extended period can pose a risk. If you like to listen to music, audiobooks, or podcasts all day long, then you can do damage to your hearing without realizing it.
Preventing Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
What can you do to prevent noise-induced hearing loss? The first step is to wear hearing protection if you realize that your hearing might be at risk. In many cases, you can use an app on your smartphone to measure the decibel level in the place where your leisure activity takes place. Disposable foam earplugs can reduce that volume level by at least 10 decibels, making it possible to endure the sound for longer before damage takes place. More advanced hearing protection might be necessary for some activities, such as using firearms. In addition to protecting your hearing, you can prevent loss by limiting your exposure. A good rule of thumb is to keep your headphone or earbud level at no more than 75 percent of the maximum. If it is not possible to turn down the volume on your leisure activity, you can limit the time of exposure by taking noise breaks and stepping away from that location. You might not realize how loud your leisure activity is until you find yourself in a quiet place with ringing in your ears.
Treating Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
If you have already incurred noise-induced hearing loss, the good news is that treatment is available. Although we have not discovered a cure for hearing loss in the context of the body, assistive technology has developed rapidly in recent years. The latest hearing aids can do a lot to improve the quality of your hearing and communication. Why not schedule a hearing test right away? When our hearing health professionals understand your hearing needs through that diagnostic assessment, we can recommend the right hearing aids for your individual needs.