Smart strategies for hearing protection

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF / CONSUMER REPORTS) – Whether you’ve played in a college band, you’ve cranked your headphones too loud, or used power tools without proper ear protection, there’s a good chance you’ll experience some hearing loss as you get older.

No one wants to lose their hearing. But the good news is there are steps you can take now to preserve the hearing you have left.

Chris Martin,, and The Who’s Pete Townshend are just some of the many musicians suffering from hearing damage after years of exposure to loud music.

But you don’t have to be a Rock star to lose your hearing – people of all ages are vulnerable, and audiologists say it’s important to understand the causes.

“Hearing isn’t damaged just by high level sound, it’s damaged by high level sound over a period of time,” said Audiologist Brian Fligor.

For example, just 15 minutes at one football game in a stadium may cause hearing damage, or 5 minutes from a very loud TV or from music turned all the way up on your iPhone with standard earbuds on. So, if you attend games and concerts often, or crank up your iPhone volume daily – your risk for hearing loss increases.

Consumer Reports says one trick is to minimize the intensity of noises around you – use noise canceling headphones that shut out background clamor so you can keep volume at a low level. If you operate a lawnmower or power tools regularly, wear earmuffs or earplugs that reduce noise back down to normal conversation level.

“If I have to speak really, really loudly to be heard by someone next to me – you have to use hearing protection,” Fligor said.

Many TVs have an automatic turn-down function during commercials.

Loud, action-packed sequences? Typically found in the “assistive features” in your TV sound settings, there may be an option called “auto volume” or “dynamic range protection.”

If you think you may have hearing loss, consider getting tested. The earlier you get hearing help, the better.

And don’t forget the importance of a healthy lifestyle as things like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other health conditions can all factor into hearing loss. So eating well and exercising can also help.

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