Whether you’re a musician, industrial worker or just concerned about your hearing, it’s important to protect your ears as much as possible. Here are some tips for preventing hearing loss and tinnitus.
1. Turn your music down
Listening to loud music for extended periods of time can cause long-term hearing loss. You need to be especially careful if you listen to music through headphones in noisy places like trains and heavy traffic, as you might be tempted to turn the volume up full so you can still hear it over the noise around you.
2. Get some noise-cancelling headphones
To avoid needing to turn the volume so high, buy some noise-cancelling headphones to wear on your commute or in noisy places. They will let you listen to music at a safe volume even when there’s a lot going on around you.
3. Avoid loudspeakers at clubs and gigs
If you go to a club or live music show, try to stay away from the loudspeakers. If you’re clubbing, it’s a good idea to take breaks from the loud music by going to a chillout zone or going outside for a bit.
4. Carry ear plugs with you
Many ear plugs come in very discreet designs (see these transparent ear plugs), so you won’t look silly wearing them. Lots of ear plugs also come with small carrying cases that you can attach to your keys or bag so you always have them with you.
5. Know how loud it is
If we live on a busy street or work in a factory, we can get used to extremely loud noises without realising the harm they might be doing us. You can use an app to check the decibel level in your environment. Levels above 85 dB are dangerous if you expose yourself to them for long enough. If you find you’re regularly exposed to sound above 85 dB, you should invest in some ear protection.
6. Let your ears recover
If you expose yourself without ear plugs or ear defenders to loud noises, give your ears plenty of time to recover. Your ears will probably need at least 16 hours to recover from a loud night out.
7. Don’t put cotton wool swabs in your ears
Many people use cotton wool swabs to clean the wax out of their ears. Wax stops dust entering the ear canal, so it shouldn’t be removed unless there’s an excessive amount. If you think you have too much, see your doctor before trying to remove it yourself. Trying to remove it yourself could damage the inside of your ear.
8. Protect your ears at work
If you work in a noisy environment such as a construction site or frequently use power tools or loud machinery such as chainsaws and woodworking tools, you should protect your ears with ear plugs or ear defenders. Read the Health and Safety Executive’s advice about wearing hearing protection at work here.