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What if you can't listen to your favourite music anymore?

Wong Shu Lee  


  March 01, 2022

Recently, I brought my 90-years-old grandmother to an ENT clinic for a hearing assessment. Though hearing loss is a common problem among elder adults, it brings a lot of inconvenience and limitations to her daily life. 


Personally, I can’t imagine how depressed I would be if I couldn’t listen to my favorite music anymore. Unfortunately, hearing loss doesn’t only affect patients’ life in limiting their ability to listen to music, it also causes social withdrawal due to reduced access to services and difficulties communicating with others. 


So I started to think, it’s this a path that all of us must go through as we age? Is there anywhere for us to prevent, or at least slow down hearing loss so that we still can enjoy beautiful music and involve in meaningful conversations when we’re old? 


Apparently, there are some simple things you can do to help stop loud noises from permanently damaging your hearing, no matter how old you are. 


#1 Avoid loud noises


The best way to avoid noise-induced hearing loss is to keep away from loud noise as much as you can. If you can’t move away from sources of loud noises (if it’s your workplace, for instance), consider wearing earplugs to protect your hearing. 


Noise levels are measured in decibels (dB): the higher the number, the louder the noise. Any sound over 85dB can be harmful, especially if you're exposed to it for a long time.


To get an idea of how loud this is:


  • whispering – 30dB
  • conversation – 60dB
  • busy traffic – 70 to 85dB
  • motorbike – 90dB
  • listening to music on full volume through headphones – 100 to 110dB
  • plane taking off – 120dB


Generally, if you cannot hear what people nearby are saying, it means the surrounding noise is loud enough to damage your hearing. 


#2 Take care when listening to music


Listening to loud music through earphones and headphones is one of the biggest dangers to your hearing.


To help avoid damaging your hearing:


  • use noise-canceling earphones or headphones – do not just turn the volume up to cover up outside noise
  • turn the volume up just enough so you can hear your music comfortably, but no higher
  • do not listen to music at more than 60% of the maximum volume – some devices have settings you can use to limit the volume automatically
  • do not use earphones or headphones for more than an hour at a time – take a break for at least 5 minutes every hour


Keep in mind, even just turning down the volume a little bit can make a big difference to your risk of hearing damage.


#3 Get your hearing tested


Get a hearing test as soon as possible if you're worried you might be losing your hearing. The earlier hearing loss is picked up, the earlier something can be done about it.


You might also want to consider having regular hearing checks (once a year, say) if you're at a higher risk of noise-induced hearing loss, for example, if you're a musician or work in noisy environments.


#safelistening #worldhearingday #hearingcare


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