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How to protect your hearing this summer

CARLY MAGILL

Summer weather gets more people outside swimming, working in the yard, and attending concerts, car races, and fireworks shows. Don’t put your hearing at risk while you have fun this summer, take the necessary precautions to protect your ears.

According to the Hearing Health Foundation, the number of Americans with hearing loss doubled from 2000 to 2015, and much of that is caused by noise-induced hearing loss.

Protect Your Ears from Noise

When you are in a situation or performing a job that has loud noise, it is important to wear ear protection.

Noises louder than 80 decibels have the potential to cause permanent damage to your ears, including hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing in the ears). To understand what noises can damage your ears, here is the average decibel for typical sounds we hear in the summer:

∫ Normal conversation – 40-60 decibels

∫ Lawnmower – 94 decibels

∫ Concert – 105-120 decibels

∫ Leaf blower – 115 decibels

∫ Chainsaw – 120 decibels

∫ Car races – 130 decibels

∫ Fireworks – 162 decibels

Avoiding the loud noise is the best way to protect your ears, but if you can’t avoid it-wear earplugs. Even cheap earplugs can protect your ears and reduce levels by approximately 30 decibels. If you are around loud noise regularly, you should invest in custom earplugs fitted by an audiologist or over the ear headphones. Do not use cotton balls or tissue as earplugs-they don’t provide any protection.

Other tips to prevent hearing loss from noise, include:

” Avoid sitting near speakers. Position yourself at least 25 feet from the speaker.

” Take breaks from exposure to the noise. The longer you are exposed, the higher your risk is for hearing loss.

Swimming and Ear Protection

Swimming is a great way to keep cool and get exercise in the summer, but swimmer’s ear can keep you out of the pool and put your hearing at risk.

Swimmer’s ear is caused by moisture getting trapped in the ear canal and causes an ear infection. The following tips can help you prevent swimmer’s ear and reduce your risk for hearing loss:

” Keep your ears clean and dry. After swimming, dry each ear with a towel and tilt your head to each side, allowing water to escape the ear canal.

” Don’t remove ear wax. Ear wax helps protect your ear from infections.

” Wear earplugs while swimming.

” If you get swimmer’s ear regularly, talk to your doctor about ear drops for use after swimming.

Should I Get My Hearing Checked?

Hearing is something most people take for granted. If you are having difficulty hearing, you should be seen by a doctor.

Call an audiologist for an appointment or hearing test if you experience:

” Difficulty hearing someone talking two feet away.

” Difficulty hearing in places with loud background noise.

” Trouble hearing on the telephone.

” Have pain or ringing in your ears.

Hearing loss is preventable, and there are treatment options available if you do have hearing loss or tinnitus. Protect your ears this summer-it is as important as sunscreen.

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Dr. Carly Magill is an audiologist with UPMC Susquehanna seeing patients of all ages for hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance disorders. Dr. Magill sees patients at Susquehanna Health ENT in Bloomsburg, 6850 Lows Rd. To schedule an appointment, call 570-387-4368.

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