Our world is becoming more and more noisy thanks to everything from mobile phones to traffic, so it’s essential that we do everything we can to protect our hearing
The increased use of headphones is a factor in a worrying rise in hearing loss, an expert warns.
The World Health Organisation estimates 375 million of people are severely disabled by the condition.
But in our ever more noisy world, the WHO predicts an additional one billion globally, or half of all 12-35 year olds, are at risk of hearing loss.
Expert Stephen Wheatley, 63, said it is crucial we protect hearing yet the environment has become far noisier in the past 150 years, through everything from traffic to mobiles.
He said: “There’s a famous saying that goes, ‘If you lose your sight you lose contact with things, if you lose hearing you lose touch with people.”
To mark World Hearing Day today, here is Stephen’s advice on protecting your hearing.
Take note of noise
Sound is what you want to hear, all else is noise, such as someone talking loudly behind you or traffic outside. Each time you are exposed to noise you could be permanently damaging your hearing. And once it’s damaged it doesn’t recover.
Be aware of noise around you and protect your ears
In high noise environments like the gym, or on public transport, consider using foam ear protectors or noise cancelling headphones. Noise on some London Tube lines, for example, averages out at about 94 decibels – pretty loud. I don’t like the music at my gym but I could effectively run myself deaf by turning up the volume on my own device.
Beware of wind noise
This can give you tinnitus , a condition that leaves sufferers with a permanent ringing, humming or buzzing in the ears.
I am not going to be a killjoy and tell people not to stick their head out the car window to let their hair blow in the wind but people such as motorcyclists are at risk. Use specialist motorcyclist ear plugs to reduce wind noise down to a less harmful level.
Downtime for your ears
Protect them in the first place but if you are overexposed to noise, rest your hearing. Sit somewhere quiet and read a book, or sit in the quieter section of a restaurant.