From your hairdryer to the microwave, the neighbour’s sports bike or your personal iPod or even the coffee machine at the neighbourhood coffee shop, noise hounds us from all sides. It isn’t just difficult, it is close to impossible to escape the avalanche of noise that hits us every day. Noise is not just a bother; it can permanently damage hearing too. Sometimes the damage is instantaneous due to some loud, explosive blast and at other times, the damage can happen gradually over the years. In the later scenario, it is often too late by the time we realise all is not well with our ears.
The stats are scary. Worldwide, every 6th person has some degree of hearing impairment. If studies are to be believed, a staggering 1.1 billion people will have hearing problems by the year 2015, out of which 37% will be below retirement age.
So, how does noise affect our hearing abilities? Studies reveal that if noise is too loud, it renders nerve endings in the inner ear dead. This happens due to prolonged exposure to loud noise. A person’s hearing capacity is directly proportional to the number of nerve endings in the ear. As the nerve endings decrease, so does hearing. What’s worse, the damage is irreversible.
Care should be taken to ensure that our ears are protected from loud noise over a long period of time. Those who work in noisy environments such as factories or use tools etc should guard their ears against damage by investing in hearing protectors. Even those who use loud motorbikes should always wear some kind of protective gear while riding.
Water can also affect one’s hearing prowess. If you cannot stay away from taking a dip in the pool every now and then, make sure you have proper protective headgear on. Also, divers should take care to descend and ascend gradually so as to let the ears get accustomed to the water pressure.
One must also remember that nature has its own way of cleaning the ears and it doesn’t require human assistance in the form of ear buds etc. Let ear wax be, it is how the ears stay clean and healthy. Also, refrain from using your iPod at a very high volume. Just because the devise allows you to use it at a very high decibel does not mean you should.