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Whatever your age, take steps now to make your hearing last for life

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One in every 10 Americans has some degree of hearing loss. That includes teenagers, children, and adults.

Though age is a factor, hearing loss isn't a definite condition of advancing years. By protecting your hearing, you could have excellent hearing through retirement years.

Today, hearing loss is on the rise among people from their teens to their 40s. The main cause of hearing loss is also on the rise: loud noise.

The world has become a noisier place. Much of the high volume is in the form of sound systems in movie theaters, cars, and home theaters. And power devices like leaf blowers and snow blowers can be harmful.

There are many things you can do to preserve your hearing. Don't blast the music. Use earplugs when operating power equipment. Learn to recognize the signs of hearing loss, and have your hearing checked. Early treatment of infection or disease affecting your ears is a proven way to make the most of the hearing you have.

Chronic exposure to loud noise damages the sensitive structure of hearing, the inner ear's hair cells and the nerve fibers they contact. While the damage cannot be cured or reversed, the progression of hearing loss can be prevented by protecting the ears from further high-noise exposure.

Simple ear plugs made of foam polyurethane reduce sound by 7 to 10 decibels (dB). Use them when operating power equipment. Custom-fitted plugs reduce noise levels by 10 to 15 dB, which is often enough to reduce noise levels below the critical damaging threshold of 85 dB. Use them at loud stock car races.

Properly insulated ear muffs reduce levels to 15 to 25 dB. They are important for people who are exposed to gunfire or continuing loud noise.

If hearing protection is specified on your job, be sure to wear it.

Long Island Safety Articles > Whatever your age, take steps now to make your hearing last for life

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