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Miscellaneous

World Hearing Day 2022

Today, Thursday 3rd March 2022, is World Hearing Day. The World Health Organisation (WHO) have deemed that the theme of this year’s day is “To hear for life, listen with care”. They wish all those celebrating the day to focus on noise control and “safe listening”. Hearing loss caused through exposure to loud noise is entirely preventable so we think this is a great cause! There are events taking place across the globe to help people better understand the risks of exposure to loud noise.

 

World Hearing Day – The origins

World Hearing Day first began on 03/03/2007 but it wasn’t actually declared as World Hearing Day until 2016. It was originally known as International Ear Care Day. Every year there is a theme to the day and, as discussed above, this year is “To hear for life, listen with care”. On Thursday, the WHO will call for governments, event venues and industry society to raise awareness with regards to “safe listening”.

 

Listening levels

Safe listening levels depend on lots of different factors and also the environment you’re in but we’ll give you a rough idea of some common sound levels. Safe sounds are things like normal conversation or even a vacuum cleaner. Once we reach 85 decibels (dB), your hearing may be impaired either temporarily, or more seriously, permanently. Some headphones can reach as high as 136 dB!! Clearly this is not okay, and we need to be really careful not to push our hearing health too far. If your device doesn’t offer an indicator of sound level, you can search “sound level app” on the app store on your smartphone and download one. This will easily give you an indication of where the correct sound level.

 

Sound level exposure

We also need to consider the amount of time we are being exposed to certain sound levels. A busy road is often as noisy as 85 dB and the maximum amount of time you should be exposed to this level of noise is eight hours, or ideally, less. In a bar or nightclub, often the sound level reaches as much as 104 dB (the same as a chainsaw!). In this situation it can take as little as 15 minutes for you to be at risk of hearing damage. With this in mind, it is clear that we need to be careful when using headphones. It’s important to keep the volume down and take breaks from listening with them.

 

Symptoms of noise damage

Unfortunately, there is no precise way of knowing if / when you are causing damage to your hearing. However, there are a few symptoms that you should absolutely not ignore. If your ears are ringing, you have definitely been exposed to a high volume sound. Another sign is muffled hearing, or temporary hearing loss. This can happen after attending a loud event, such as a concert or even after having been to the cinema. If you are raising your voice to make yourself hear, the environment you are in is too loud. I’m sure we have all experienced a colleague speaking too loud at us due to the sound level of their headphones. If you do notice any of these warning signs, you should avoid loud noises until your hearing has returned to normal.

 

Prevention

There are a few ways in which you can prevent noise-induced hearing loss. You should always ensure your headphones / ear buds are well fitted. This is because a good fit stops any sound escaping and you will hear your audio clearly, reducing the temptation to turn it up.

If you know you are going to be attending a noisy event, protect yourself by wearing earplugs. Using them can reduce your level of exposure by as much as 45dB!

 

Help promote World Hearing Day 2022 by practising safe listening and encouraging others around you to do the same. As always, if you feel you’d like some further advice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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