You might not realise it, but hearing damage and loss are emerging problems all over the world. The World Health Organization reports a 5.3% prevalence of hearing loss globally while a 2018 study in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care reveals that there’s a 6.3% prevalence of hearing impairment in India, making it a key issue for our country to address.
Noise, which is measured in decibels or dB, is one of the biggest factors that contribute to hearing damage and loss. The UK’s National Health Service says that any sound above 85dB for prolonged periods of time can be extremely harmful. The rising dependence on earphones and headphones has led to an increase in the number of people dealing with this health issue.
While this dependence, which is both for personal leisure and professional work performance, cannot be completely bypassed or removed, you can adopt a few good practices that can help you minimise the risk of hearing damage and loss.
- Lower the volume of your device and maintain it between 60-80dB. If it crosses the threshold of 85dB, make sure it’s not for a long duration.
- Avoid using earphones for a long stretch of time at a go, especially while you’re sleeping. The prescribed upper limit of safety here is 80dB for eight hours. Cross either of those and your risks of hearing damage increase.
- Softer earphone buds keep your ears from getting cuts and scratches, which in turn can protect you from developing outer ear infections. Do not put pointy objects in your ear, because they involve the same risks of infection.
- Clean your earphones regularly because dust and rust can attract microbes which cause infections. Follow the instructions given by the manufacturers to clean the device.
- Earphone usage can clog the earwax, which is the ear’s natural cleaning mechanism. You can use olive or almond oil judiciously to soften the earwax (with the help of an ear but, not your finger) or go to a doctor and get your ears irrigated.
- Protect your ears from noise exposure during concerts, parties, sports events and nightclubs by using earplugs, taking regular breaks, and give yourself at least 18 hours of low or no noise to recover from the event.
- Get a hearing test app on your phone or consult an ENT to keep regular tabs on your ear health, especially if you use earphones for prolonged periods of time.