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How to Avoid Deafness or Hearing Loss

Written: 12/04/2007

What? Talk more loudly!

It happens to all of us that sometimes we have trouble hearing the other person talking to us. But when you no longer hear the phone ringing or you cannot follow a simple conversation in a restaurant, then it is high time you do something about it. The World Health Organization estimates that 278 millions of people around suffer from partial or complete hearing loss. However most of the people suffering from hearing problems tend to ignore it. For many people, hearing loss is a sign of old age. They do not understand that it is the same as wearing glasses.

How do your ears work?

Without delving into a course on physics, to understand the functioning of your ears, you must first understand how sound works. A sound is just a vibration which oscillates very rapidly. Frequency is the amount of oscillations per second. In simple term, the nearer the vibrations are to your ear, the higher the frequency will be and the more acute the sound produced will be. The human ear is capable of hearing sounds from 20 Hz to 20 000 Hz. Also the sound we hear has a certain intensity or force which we measure in decibels. We can hear intensities from 0 db to 120 db. Our hearing system can translate the vibrations of the sound in our ears into information decodable by our brain. What affects our hearing system is the way our ears translate the vibrations for the brain to understand them.

Do you have hearing problems?

The extent to which your ears have been affected can be measured very precisely. Without going into full details, here are a scale used by professionals. If your hearing loss is about:

  • 0 to 20 db: (You hear no sound between 0 to 20 db) - Normal Hearing
  • 20 to 40 db: slight deficiency
  • 40 to 70 db: average deficiency
  • 70 to 90 db: severe deficiency
  • 90 to 120 db: extreme deficiency
  • 120 db: complete hearing loss

Answer the following questions to determine whether you have a hearing problem:

  • In a noisy place, do you have trouble following a conversation?
  • Do you ask people to whom you talk to repeat what they have just said?
  • Do you increase the volume when you watch TV or when you are listening to a song on the radio?
  • Do you have trouble understanding conversations when people talk to you in the dark?
  • Do you have trouble understanding a foreign movie which has been translated in your mother tongue?
  • On the phone, do you have trouble understanding addresses, numbers,etc... which are communicated to you?

If you have replied Yes to one or more of the above questions, then it is high time you see a doctor about your ears. By going early, there is a great chance to restore your hearing to normal.

How to maintain a normal hearing?

Noise, like the noise of an aircraft taking off or the noise from a jackhammer but also more harmonious sound like the music on a concert or from an mp3 player can damage your ears. A sound more than 85 db listened for a prolonged amount of time is considered as potentially damaging to the ears. Here are simple tips to help your ears survive this aggression:

  • Always carry earplugs with you

    Not all workplaces are calm. Take a few earplugs with you and use them if your concentration is hampered by the noise around you.

  • Stop using headphones/earphones

    Stop using your Ipod at home or around the house. Instead use loudspeakers whenever possible as long as you do not make it loud and you do not annoy your neighbors with the sound.

  • Do not stay near the loudspeakers.

    This point may sound as a contradiction in respect to the point above. But if you stay near the loudspeakers, it is the same as if you are listening through your headphones or earphones.

  • Listen to your mp3 player for 20 hours only per week.

    4 hours at a party and 2 hours in a night-club per week.

  • Dump the cotton swab.

    Use a cotton swab if you want to run the risk of causing irreversible damage to your ears. To safeguard your ears clean them with a disposable handkerchief using your finger. Most people like to remove completely the wax from the ears but you must understand that the wax has a protective role in the ears. It filters the air which enters the by trapping bacteria, insects and dust particles. It also lubricates the ear canal. Do not wash your ears daily. Twice a week is largely sufficient.

  • Use protective ear covers in your workplace for noises above 87 dbs.

    Deafness is the second professional disease which affects many people around the world. Working in a place where there are constant noises everyday will ultimately have irreversible impacts on your hearing abilities. I can't ask you to change jobs but you can use protective ear covers to dampen the noise intensity.

  • Use earplugs when swimming or bathing.

    Sometimes it happens that water enters your ears, mingles with the earwax and clogs your ear canal. This is very painful to remove. So to avoid this, use ear plugs when swimming or bathing to avoid this.

  • Be careful when diving.

    Be careful when diving due to the change of pressure in the water. Dive alongside a professional diver and respects all the safety procedures.

Our ears are very important for a normal life. Protect them and they will serve you for a long time.

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