What You Need to Know to Protect Your Hearing Health

Oct. 21, 2019

Hearing damage is not something that is always noticeable as it’s happening.

how to protect your ears from hearing loss

There are various causes, types and symptoms that can progress or increase your chances of hearing loss.

For National Protect Your Hearing Month, Meredith Baum, audiologist at UC Health Ear, Nose & Throat, shares insights on your hearing health.

Types of Hearing Loss

  • Conductive—Conductive hearing loss is caused by damage or blockage to the ear canal, eardrum or to the bones in the middle ear. This can usually be corrected with medical care.

  • Sensorineural—Sensorineural hearing loss is due to damage to the inner ear or nerve that usually results in permanent hearing loss. Correction can be helped with hearing aids or other devices.

  • Noise-induced—Noise-induced hearing loss is sensorineural hearing loss due to a one-time exposure or repeated exposure to loud sounds.

Damaging Noise Sources 

Be aware of everyday damaging noise sources, such a lawnmower, and protect yourself. Exposure longer than two hours without hearing protection can cause lasting damage. A jackhammer can cause damage within 15 seconds of it turning on without using hearing protection. A single gunshot when shooting targets or hunting without hearing protection can cause instant damage.

When to see an audiologist

You may not notice that you’re losing hearing from your daily conversations. However, in settings with a lot of background noise, people may notice difficulty understanding or clearly hearing speech. Difficulty hearing the TV, especially shows with accents, or turning up the volume for better clarity but making it too loud for others can also be signs. People may also experience tinnitus, or ringing/sounds in the ears.

What you can do 

  • Turn it down—Decrease the volume level of any sound source, especially when using headphones.

  • Walk away—Remove yourself from a loud exposure area if you are able.

  • Use hearing protection—Always wear hearing protection while in the presence of noise. If you have to think about whether or not to wear it, just do it.

  • Limit your exposure—Finally, limit your exposure time. The longer you are exposed to noise, the greater the chance it will damage your hearing.