Tips for Protecting the Ears in the Summer
We all love summertime and the exciting activities and events that come with it. Vacations to the beach, backyard BBQs, pool time, and lazy days just relaxing with your family. It can’t get much better, right? What if these sunny days can also bring potential hazards to your ears and hearing?
While some of the noisiest activities can occur during the summer, there are still ways to enjoy everything you love to do while still keeping your hearing protected. So let’s check out some of the best ways to keep your ears safe this summer.
How Can Loud Noises Damage Your Hearing?
Exposure to loud noises will eventually damage and break down the tiny hairs inside your ears. These hair cells make sound waves into electrical signals, and then those signals or impulses are sent to the brain and interpreted into sound. If those small hairs are damaged, they cannot be repaired. This reduces your ability to hear sounds properly and as well as you would with healthy hair cells in your ears.
Have you ever been at a loud concert or in a noisy building, and after you leave, all other noises are muffled, and you can’t hear quite as sharp as normal? Soon after, your hearing seems to return to normal. How does this happen, you might ask?
Your hair cells have the ability to bend when exposed to loud sounds. They bend more and more with increased sound but straighten out as the environment quiets down. This repeated exposure to loud sounds will slowly destroy the hair cells. As this continues, you will find yourself having difficulty understanding someone talking to you, especially in an environment with background noise.
Not only are hair cells damaged when subjected to loud sounds, but the auditory nerve that is responsible for carrying sound information to your brain can also be hurt. You’ll notice this damage even more later in life as it affects how quickly your hearing loss could progress in your mature years.
Keeping your ears protected and using common sense when you’re in a noisy environment is essential. According to the CDC, each person has about 16,000 hair cells in their ears when born. Unfortunately, around 30-50% of these hair cells can be damaged before actual changes can be measured during a hearing test. So, by the time you notice hearing loss, there can be so many hair cells that have been damaged and irreparable.
What Kinds of Summer Activities Put You at Most Risk?
While there are endless ways to incur hearing damage, some of the most common summer activities that could put you at increased risk include:
- Fireworks (especially if you’re too close and the one lighting them off)
- Loud movies
- Attending car races
- Using power tools
- Mowing your lawn (and using a weedwhacker)
Protecting Your Hearing Now and for the Future
Keeping your ears and hearing safe needs to become something you are vigilant about. It may not be the “cool” thing to do to wear earplugs or leave an event that is too loud, but you’ll thank yourself later when you can still hear your grandkids talk to you and others can’t.
Practicing a little discipline will go a long way for your future hearing quality. Some of the best ways to protect your ears in your everyday life and during the summer months are by:
- Limiting the amount of time you spend at a loud event (even if it’s outdoors)
- Wearing earplugs or bringing them with you in case things get loud at an activity
- Watching the volume when listening to music
- Taking breaks listening to music if you wear headphones for prolonged periods of time
- Turning down the sound on your television
- Thinking about spending the extra money on quieter power tools and other equipment you use
- Standing away from a loudspeaker or sound system at events
- Wearing ear protection when mowing your law
- ALWAYS wearing ear protection when shooting a gun or standing around those that are
Keeping your hearing at the forefront of your mind, even in your younger years, can have big payoffs. Thinking about your children’s hearing at loud events, especially when they are very young, is extra important!
I Think I Have Hearing Loss – What Now?
If you have found yourself constantly asking people to repeat themselves, needing to turn up the T.V., or straining to hear your loved ones speak and make out words clearly, you may need to check your hearing. This initial step can increase your quality of life immensely.
Hearing loss is nothing to be ashamed of; it is something that should be addressed sooner than later! Hearing loss has been connected to dementia, balance loss, and other dangerous and life-altering issues. If you can get help now through the use of hearing aids or other means, obtaining it as soon as possible can do wonders!
What about the cost, you might ask? While hearing aids and other hearing treatments can be expensive, assistance is available. More and more medical insurance companies are helping with the cost of hearing aids. There are other financial assistant programs available too. They aren’t just for older adults either. So do your homework and ask your ear doctor about opportunities to minimize the financial hit you will be incurring.
We’re Here to Help
Fairfax Hearing Center is ready to help ease your burden and the frustration that is experienced with hearing loss. We specialize in finding the best solution for each of our patients while educating and assisting them in choosing the most effective way to treat their hearing loss.
Hearing the world around you and what those you love most are saying is priceless. We look forward to working with you to help you hear the very best you possibly can. Don’t hesitate to call our team at Fairfax Hearing Center with any questions and to find out more about the services we provide. Schedule a consultation and hearing test to get started today.