An important part of protecting your hearing is to make sure you don’t expose yourself to damaging loud noise, or to limit your exposure to loud noise where you can.
There are rules regarding exposure to loud sounds in the workplace. Noise Regulations state that workers should not be exposed to noise levels of 85dBA for more than eight hours and for louder sounds, even less time. No worker should be exposed for any length of time to sound greater than 140dB.
There are many recreational activities that involve exposure to loud noise and the rules that apply to workers for noise exposure can be applied to these activities also. Listening to loud music, whether it be to live bands or through a personal listening device, playing an instrument in a band, using power tools or mowing the lawn represent exposure to loud sound which can be damaging.
If you listen to a sound system through headphones or ear buds, it is important to keep the volume to a moderate level. A good rule of thumb is “If the person next to you can hear what you’re listening to, it’s too loud”.
If you are in a loud noisy space such as a workshop for long periods of time you should take regular breaks from the source of the noise to give your ears a rest, or ask for ear protection to be provided if appropriate.
Ringing in your ears after being in loud noise is often the first warning sign of noise damage which could be permanent.
Other signs of hearing loss brought about by noise exposure (noise induced hearing loss) can include difficulty hearing certain sounds you used to be able to hear easily such as the phone ringing, or needing to turn up the television or having to ask people to repeat themselves. Even if your hearing is damaged you can prevent further loss by protecting your hearing.
Simple ways to reduce the effects of exposure to loud noise are by using hearing protection, as well as taking breaks from loud noise where you can, and by turning down the volume.
The best way to protect your hearing from loud sound is to wear ear plugs or ear muffs to reduce the loudness of the sound. Basic ear plugs can be bought over the counter. You can also have custom made noise plugs made by your Victorian Hearing audiologist.
Musicians can invest in a pair of musician’s ear plugs. These ear plugs have a special filter which helps to reduce the loudness of damaging sounds without affecting your ability to hear the music properly. These are a worthwhile investment and are available from Victorian Hearing.