Protect Your Ears
People are loud. iPods are loud. Cafes are loud. Subways are loud. Our ears just aren’t designed for all that noise! Since no one wants to be middle-aged and shouting at the grocery store, it’s important to know the dangers your ears face and how to avoid them.
According to the Hearing Foundation of Canada, hearing loss “is the fastest growing, and one of the most prevalent, chronic conditions facing Canadians today”. Hearing loss in younger people is also getting worse. This can make it hard to hear speech when there is background noise or give you trouble telling apart low and high sounds. It essentially kills your ability to hear music properly!
Have you ever been in a really loud place, like a concert, and when you leave your ears are ringing? Well, if that happens a lot, you can develop a condition called tinnitus where the ringing won’t stop.
This isn’t just something old people have to worry about. I got tinnitus when I was 20. I was a drummer and went to a lot of concerts. After a while, that ringing sound became permanent. I haven’t had a minute of silence since. Many tinnitus sufferers need to keep a noise-making machine in the room to drown out the ringing and help them sleep.
The artist Vincent Van Gogh suffered from tinnitus. A lot of people have heard the story about how he cut off his ear. A common belief now is that he cut it off because of a bad tinnitus attack.
There are a few things you can do so you don’t end up as that old dad who has his cell phone volume turned up way too high or a crazy artist cutting off his ears. First, just be aware of the noise around you. It’s not just the volume you should be paying attention to, but also how long you’re exposed to it. You can be in a noisy restaurant for about 8 hours a day before your ears have had enough. On the other hand, if you listen to your iPod at top volume (so loud that everyone around you can hear it, too) you can cause permanent damage in less than 30 seconds (according to the Canadian Academy of Audiology).
If you listen to an iPod, get good headphones. The best type of headphones you can buy are the ones that cover your ears and cut out sound from outside. That way you don’t have to keep turning up the volume to compete with the world.
If you’re at a concert or in a place with loud music playing, go outside for a minute to give your ears a rest.
If you’re a musician or someone who likes live music, you have to be extra careful. There’s something you should know about called “Musician’s earplugs”. These earplugs are molded to your inner ear and can drop sound levels without warping the sound and lots of professional musicians use them.
Hearing loss and tinnitus aren’t only brought on by loud noises. There are other causes, like genetics and aging. Still, in this world filled with loud music, cell phones and other noise, we have to do what we can to keep on hearing well into our old age.