There are Ways Your Smartphone Can Help Prevent Hearing Loss
Your smartphone does a lot for you – navigates you through cities, connects you to your social networks, helps you de-stress with games, and even deposits checks into your bank account for you!
Well, now you can add another item to the list: your smartphone can save your hearing. You may be wondering how that’s the case, when the advent of small personal electronics has been linked to rising rates of hearing loss in younger populations.
Lately, you may see many people plugged into their smartphones with earbuds or headphones. Though a constant stream of loud music and media could lead to hearing loss, there are ways your smartphones can help you to prevent it too.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Noise-induced hearing loss is a form of hearing loss caused when your ears have been exposed to high levels of noise over an extended period of time. In some instances, noise-induced hearing loss has been caused by one-time exposure to very loud noise, such as a gunshot or a firecracker.
Hearing specialists measure sounds in decibels. They tell us that sounds at 85 decibels are okay to experience for a period of about eight hours. After this, you may be at risk for permanent hearing loss. Additionally, as the decibel level rises, the amount of safe exposure time begins to shrink. This means if you’re listening to sounds at 115 decibels, you may be permanently damaging your hearing after just 15 minutes of listening.
All sounds have a decibel measurement. In terms of common sounds we experience, 115 decibels is what we’d experience at a live rock concert. The blast of a jet engine is measured at about 120 decibels. Conversely, a normal conversation is about 65 decibels.
The Problem with Earbuds & Headphones
With the ubiquity of earbuds and headphones, a rise in hearing loss has been detected among younger populations, according to the World Health Organization. The WHO has estimated that approximately 1.1 billion young people in developed countries are at risk for hearing loss. A lot of this has been attributed to the danger posed by earbuds and headphones.
Earbuds are positioned deep in your ear canal, and sit in close proximity to the eardrum. This placement creates noise conditions that are comparable to being enclosed in a coal mine, while drilling. Imagine how unpleasant that noise is – and you’ll understand how much damage earbuds pose to your hearing. This is due to the fact that earbuds do not cancel out external noises, which means that people tend to turn up the volume while listening to music in order to drown out other sounds.
Headphones do not pose as high a risk as earbuds, but they also are not healthy for your ears. Of all the choices, hearing specialists recommend noise-canceling headphones. These are better at canceling out external noises, which means volumes do not reach too high a volume on the headphones.
How Your Smartphone Can Help Prevent Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Have you ever wondered, how loud is too loud? You’re at a wedding and the speakers are blasting music. You’re in a restaurant with a minimalist design, and it sounds like the reverb of conversations is just bouncing off the walls. If you’re feeling a bit uncomfortable with the noise in your environment, chances are the noises are too loud.
If you want a specific measurement for it, which could help you gauge how long you should remain in an environment with that level of noise, there’s an app for it!
For both Android and Apple operating systems, you can find apps for sound meters or decibel meters. Often times, these apps are free. Simply download this app and when you find yourself in a questionably loud situation, try out the meter! The reading will let you know the loudness of the sounds you’re experiencing.
The danger posed to your hearing is a combination of a number of factors. There’s the decibel level, and then there’s the amount of time you are exposed to it, as well as the size of the space and your distance from the sound. Obviously, if the sounds are very loud, you’re in a small space for a long period of time, and you’re right next to the speaker, you’ll be at higher risk for hearing loss.
Your sound meter app can help you determine the measurement of noise, but you’ll have to decide when it’s time to move or to go! The awareness of the decibels you are experience will alert you – which could, over time, save your hearing.
A recent study has found that hearing loss rates are actually lower now than in the last decade. This is due, in part, to raising awareness about hearing loss and the use of protective hearing devices, such as earplugs or custom made ear molds. Paying attention to the decibels of your environment also plays a key role.
Have questions about hearing protection and noise-induced hearing loss? Contact us at Sound Hearing Group today!