If you’ve been struggling to hear your favourite podcast recently and reached into your pocket to crank the volume, you might have gotten a message on your phone telling you that you’re listening beyond recommended limits.
Most of us, according to a study from the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, are exposed to too much in the way of loud noises over the course of our lives, and it’s taking a toll on our hearing, especially late in life. The study has been conducted with the help of Apple. Data was collected from vast numbers of Apple Watch and iPhone users.
What does the findings show?
The researchers found that the world is extremely loud. Around a quarter of participants were exposed to a level of sound that went beyond the WHO’s recommended limit. This might have been generated by traffic, trains, construction sites and machinery. Around half of participants, moreover, reported having worked in a loud workplace.
Signs to Look for
Around one-in-ten participants in the study were consistently listening to music and other media at higher than recommended volume. Do this for long enough, and it’s a near-certainty that your hearing will begin to deteriorate.
Unfortunately, our minds tend to adjust to uncomfortably loud environments. If you walk into a deafening club, you might find that after a few minutes you’re able to deal with the excessive noise without surprise or alarm. Unfortunately, the damage to your hearing is still going on.
If you find yourself constantly reaching for the volume control, or have friends and relatives tell you that the TV is really loud, then it might be that your hearing has already begun to suffer. In this instance, it’s worth taking an online test, or getting in touch with a local audiologist.
But before you get to that point, you might get your hearing tested, or install a monitor on your phone or smart device so that you can get an idea of how loud your work environment is. If you’re working in an environment where volume is a constant concern, like a nightclub, a music studio or a factory, then you might install a monitor on the wall so that everyone can see how loud things are.
Tips to Protect your Hearing
If you’re working in a loud environment, then the best thing you can do is to plug your ears. Cotton wool will be effective – but earplugs will be even more so. You might get earplugs moulded for your ears, in fact, so that you’re able to comfortably wear them.