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Hearing loss is becoming more and more prevalent – both in Australia and around the world. Approximately 1 in every 6 people worldwide is affected by hearing loss.

The Impact of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is becoming more and more prevalent – both in Australia and around the world. Approximately 1 in every 6 people worldwide is affected by hearing loss, and as the population ages – and noise pollution increases – this number is expected to rise in the coming years.

Hearing loss prevention is key to decreasing the chances of hearing loss later in life. Research has also encouragingly proven that hearing loss is in fact one of the world’s most preventable impairments. We live in an extremely noisy world, with sound levels that threaten our hearing over long periods of time. Even seemingly harmless things like children’s toys and garden tools can cause significant damage.
 

How to prevent hearing loss

The most common types of hearing loss are:

 
Age related hearing loss
Caused by the gradual breakdown of tiny hair cells in the ears, and is often a natural part of the aging process.
Noise-induced hearing loss
Caused by long-term damages to these same hair cells, from prolonged exposure to loud noises.

There are steps you can take to prevent noise-induced hearing loss and reduce the severity of age-related hearing loss, including:

  • Avoid excessive and loud noises as much as possible
  • Invest in home appliances and devices that have low ambient noise levels
  • Wear earplugs or earmuffs when around loud noises
  • Book regular hearing tests
 

Tips for preventing hearing loss

The louder the noise is, the more quickly the hearing loss will occur. So follow these steps to protect your hearing.
  • Take note of how long you have been exposed to loud noise and have a 15 minutes break to give your ears a rest.
  • Avoid noisy situations. If you have to raise your voice to be heard then it is likely you are in a situation that is hazardous for your hearing.
  • If you can’t avoid a noisy situation, protect your hearing with either foam ear plugs or headphones. If you regularly attend concerts then it may be worth investing in some custom fit musician ear plugs. Always avoid standing directly in front of speakers or amplifiers.
  • Have your hearing tested every two years, particularly if you have noticed a change in your hearing. Your clinician will be able to give you further advice about protecting your hearing.

Hearing protection

Around 30% of people's hearing loss is caused by exposure to noise, meaning that millions of people could be prevented from ever having hearing loss if they were to follow a few basic guidelines. First of all, it is necessary to understand what is meant by the term ‘too loud’. Any noise from 85 dB up can cause hearing loss. To put this figure into perspective, a lawn mower is between 85 and 90 dB.
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Ear Protection

There are different ways to protect your ears. These methods are basically divided into two different types: ear protection that closes off the auditory canal, which includes various types of ear plugs, ear plugs with frames, wadding and ear molds, and ear protection that covers the ear.

This type of protection is not inserted into the ear, but sits on the ear in the same way as headphones do. Different models provide appropriate protection for any use and situation.

Wadding

Ear protection wadding is made of special mineral fibers covered with a thin film. The film prevents any fiber residue being left in the ear. Pressure between the ear canal and the outside can be equalized, as the wadding does not seal the ear hermetically. 

This gives greater comfort for the wearer. Ear protection wadding is very economical.

Custom ear molds

Here, an individual mold is made for each ear canal. High-quality fitting and a good, close fit give especially high levels of comfort. Special holes allow optional filters to be inserted and replaced, which means that the ear plugs can be modified to suit the required or mandatory level of sound insulation.

Ear molds are particularly suitable for musicians, and are not permitted in workplaces where noise levels reach hazardous levels of more than 95 dB.

Ear plugs with frames

 

Ear plugs with frames consist of ready-shaped plugs attached to a frame. In many types, the frame can be worn at the back of the neck, on the head or under the chin. Ear plugs with frames are particularly suited where the ear protection has to be frequently removed and replaced.

If they are not worn correctly, the minimum sound insulation level is not reached, so ear plugs with frames should not be used at noise levels above 90 dB. Sounds transmitted into the ear via the frame – by contact with the hands, for example – can sometimes cause an unpleasant sensation.

Capsule ear protection

When ear protection that fits inside the ear cannot be worn because the ear canal is too narrow or too wide, ear protection capsules are recommended. These "headphones" are very convenient, even in situations when protection has to be frequently removed and replaced because the noise occurs repeatedly but is only of short duration.
Versions that include hygiene packs or electronics – such as communication devices or integral radio – can be used in the widest variety of applications.

Capsule ear protectors make it more difficult to locate the sources of sound, so for safety they should not be used in situations when good directional hearing is needed.
 

Expanding foam ear plugs

Advantages
  • Easy to insert and remove
  • ​Economical
  • No cleaning necessary
  • Also available with cords
  • Can be worn with other protective gear, e.g. helmets
 
Disadvantages
  • Can cause itching in the ear canal

Pre-shaped ear plugs

Advantages
  • Intended for repeated use
  • Can be inserted without prior shaping
  • Available for different ear canal dimensions, and with flanges of different softness levels
  • Economical
 
Disadvantages
  • Can cause an unpleasant sensation of pressure in the ear canal
 
 

Contact Connect Hearing

For a comprehensive test that assesses where your hearing levels currently fall, contact Connect Hearing to book an appointment.

With over 140 locations nationwide, there’s a Connect Hearing Centre near youWe can help you find the right hearing solution for your needs, and will run you through the many different types of hearing aids available.

To book a hearing test, contact us online or call 1300 362 231 to speak to a hearing expert.
Hearing protection - a health investment
Common dangers associated with hearing loss
How loud is too loud? Noise induced hearing loss
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