The ears are made up of tiny, delicate structures that work together to help you hear. If any of these parts become damaged, the result could be irreversible hearing loss. This is why it’s important to take good care of your ears throughout your life.

Below are some ways to protect your ears and preserve your hearing.

Wear Hearing Protection

Estimates show that about 15% of Americans have some level of hearing loss due to noise exposure at work or during leisure activities.

There are likely many activities you participate in that you don’t even realize could be damaging your hearing. In fact, any sound over 85 dB – about the volume of highway traffic or a busy café – can cause permanent damage to the ears with enough exposure.

This is because within the inner ear are tiny hair cells called stereocilia. These cells are responsible for converting soundwaves into electrical energy that travel via the auditory nerve to the brain to be interpreted as sound. When the ears are exposed to moderately loud sounds over a period of time or very loud sounds for a short amount of time, the hair cells can die, and permanent hearing loss is the result.

If you work in a noisy environment or enjoy noisy hobbies, you can purchase disposable earplugs from the drug store or order custom-fit hearing protection from your audiologist’s office.

Don’t Listen Loudly

Along the same lines, you should take care to listen to music, podcasts, audiobooks and videos at a safe volume, especially when wearing earbuds or headphones. According to the World Health Organization, 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of hearing loss caused by unsafe listening habits.

If you wear headphones, follow the 60/60 rule, which suggests you should listen to music at no more than 60% of the device’s maximum capacity for no more than 60 minutes at a time.

The type of headphones you wear can also play a role in your hearing health. Earbuds are the  most dangerous, as the speakers sit in the ear canal very close to the eardrum. In addition, they can block earwax from exiting the canal, causing impaction if worn too long or too often.

Over-ear headphones are slightly better, but not ideal. These pull the speakers slightly away from the eardrum, but they are often low in quality, requiring you to crank up the volume to make out the sounds.

Instead, invest in noise-cancelling headphones. These block ambient noise and provide high-fidelity sound, meaning you can hear better even at a lower volume.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with an expert audiologist, call the Hearing Center of Lake Charles today.