How to Prevent Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is common; make that, hearing loss is really common. More than 48 million people in California and throughout the country are currently affected by a hearing impairment. But did you know that many of these cases can actually be prevented? In order to help people in Santa Barbara be proactive about their hearing health, we have compiled a list of tips you can follow to help prevent hearing loss.

First things first, what is noise-induced hearing loss?

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL)

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss in Santa Barbara

Noise induced hearing loss is hearing loss caused by, you guessed it, exposure to loud noises. Sounds are measured in decibels (dB). Anything over 85 dB can cause hearing loss.

  • Exposure to sound over 85 dB can cause damage within 8 hours
  • Exposure to sound over 100 dB can cause damage within 15 minutes
  • Exposure to sound over 120 dB can cause damage instantly

The solution? Avoiding the noise all together. If this is not possible, the second best option is to use hearing protection.

Your Santa Barbara audiologist offers a variety of custom earplugs that can protect your ears from a number of different activities.

Swimmers Plugs

These custom-made plugs are ideal for those who frequently participate in water activities. These plugs prevent water from entering your ear. Since many bodies of water contain bacteria (think ocean, pond, lake, etc.), if the water becomes trapped in the ear it can lead to a painful, itchy ear infection known as swimmer’s ear.

Those with frequent exposure to cold water – most commonly surfers – often suffer from reactive exostosis, an inflammation of the bone in the ear canal that leads to the formation of new bone growth. Known medically as exostosis but referred to informally as surfer’s ear, this condition causes bone to thicken, leading to a narrowing (and occasionally, a complete blockage or “occlusion”) of the ear canal. It can result in significant conductive hearing loss over time.

Swimmer’s plugs are made of a waterproof silicone, which provides a tight, waterproof seal.

Hunter’s Plugs

Anyone who fires a gun – typically hunters, law enforcement officials and gun enthusiasts – put their hearing at risk every time they pull the trigger. A single gunshot can cause permanent, irreversible hearing loss. A gunshot measures around 140 dB; that is louder than a jet engine.

This is where specially-designed earplugs come into play. They are designed to utilize acoustic filters that amplify ambient noise, allowing the user to hear their surroundings better, while still blocking the loud sounds from entering the ear.

Hunter’s plugs are available in styles that either fit in or behind the ear.

Musician’s Plugs

Whether you are in the band or attending the show, exposure to live music can put your hearing at risk. While traditional earplugs can distort or muffle music, these specially-designed plugs reduce all sounds evenly while still maintaining the quality. This ensures that the quality to the music and speech is as close to the original as possible.

If you have more questions about the importance of custom-made earplugs or would like to schedule an appointment with your Santa Barbara audiologist, contact us today.



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