Do you hear me now?
(NC) We're constantly surrounded by loud noise, whether it's the sound of commuter trains or buses, the loud buzz of the lawn mower or blaring music. Many of us don't realize the permanent, lasting damage that these sounds can have on our hearing.
In Canada, hearing loss affects approximately three million people or 10 per cent of the population, yet it remains a largely under-addressed health issue. If proactive measures are taken, however, hearing can be protected and hearing loss can be minimized through early detection.
Don't ignore the signs of hearing loss. If you experience any of the following, it is time to get your hearing checked:
• Ringing in the ears. This is a common symptom of damage and long-term hearing loss.
• Earaches. This may be a sign of an ear infection, but prolonged earaches may be an indication of hearing impairment.
• Listening to music or television at louder volumes than other people.
• Trouble distinguishing your own conversation from background noise. This could be a sign of problems with binaural hearing, which is the ability to hear in both ears and localize sounds.
• Frequently asking others to speak louder, or speaking louder than others. If you have trouble hearing others, or talk loudly and don't realize it, you may be experiencing early signs of hearing loss.
Ears are fragile and sensitive to sounds 70 decibels or higher. A vacuum cleaner or hair dryer might be 70 decibels, stereo volumes might be 110-125 decibels, and concerts can top out at 140 decibels. Hearing loss occurs based on a ratio of sound level to time exposed, so if you plan on listening to music for prolonged periods, be sure to dial down the volume or invest in a pair of earplugs.
The earlier that you detect any hearing loss, the better your chances of preserving your hearing. Canadians can test their hearing online at www.medel.com/ca/hearing-test/.
Take control over your hearing and your health by addressing hearing loss, before it's too late.
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