Because we’re born with the only auditory system we get in a lifetime, it’s up to us to protect our ears. In rare cases, hearing loss is a result of a sudden, traumatic event. More often, hearing loss occurs quite naturally along with the normal aging process. While there are a few exceptions to the rule, most hearing loss occurs very gradually over time and is irreversible. There are scenarios, however, which speed up this normal aging process of our auditory system with the repeated exposure to aggressive sounds over the course of a long time that results in an accelerated or early hearing loss.
For this reason, it is our responsibility to ensure that our hearing is considered in the situations we find ourselves in most often. Particularly in our homes and neighborhoods, which are places generally considered to be restful retreats.
The long-term effects of dangerous noise levels
A few rare instances of exposure to dangerous noise in a lifetime can be either simply mentally stressful and in some cases, a little exciting. Consider the thrill of booming fireworks or standing close to the stage as your favorite band plays. However, repeated exposure to such loud noise can cause irreparable harm to our delicate auditory systems.
If you follow your favorite rock band around for a year and continuously place yourself close to the speakers, you’ll end up with more than a great story to tell the grandkids. Noise induced hearing loss often occurs gradually over time, so repeated exposure to such noises is insidious. Eventually, you will lose the ability to hear high frequency sounds. Voices in conversation will appear distorted. Folks with mild to moderate hearing loss can find listening to become so effortful that they avoid conversation and socialization. This damages interpersonal relationships and might lead to feelings of loneliness, isolation and depression.
Manage your noise environments
While you might think a certain degree of hearing loss is a small price to pay for an adventure, consider the noise environments you are unthinkingly subjecting yourself to each and every day. It is human nature to adapt to our environments, and what might have seemed unbearably loud at first eventually becomes part of the accepted soundscape.
If you live in a bustling city, this might mean that you’ve absorbed loud traffic noises into your everyday life. If you live in a more rural area, you might have become so accustomed to the heavy train traffic that you are able to tune out their sound. Take some time over the next week or so to really pay attention to the loudness in your everyday life. If these noises seem to be bothersome or potentially dangerous now that you’ve isolated them by paying attention, there are a few steps you can take to mitigate any long-lasting effects on your hearing.
Take it to the top
Many state and local municipalities have laws in place to protect the sound levels of their residents. If noise restrictions are not being enforced, a conversation with your local government or representatives might be enough to have quiet hours resumed.
Good fences make good neighbors
If you can’t change the source of the offending noise, there are ways you can insulate your individual dwelling space. A simple fence might be enough of a barrier between you and the problematic sounds. Going an extra step and planting additional vegetation creates yet another barrier through which this sound must pass before it reaches inside and around your home. It also gives you the added benefit of improving the landscape along with the soundscape!
Get into the nooks and crannies
Making sure that your home’s windows and doors are properly insulated will increase your sound protection and reduce your heating and cooling bills. How’s that for a win-win? You can also use decorative elements to soften the harshness of sound in your home environment. Carpets or carpeting as well as curtains or drapes do much to absorb sound and are great investments in softening the noise levels within your home.
A quiet retreat does as much to prevent unnecessary hearing damage as it serves as a calming space to de-stress from the pressures of everyday life. Any investment made, including both time and money, in shoring up such a safe space for yourself is sure to pay a return many times over!
Have you noticed changes in your hearing? Contact us at Greentree Audiology today for a consultation.