Leisure Activities Rife with Loud Noise - Hearing and Speech Agency

Leisure Activities Rife with Loud Noise

More than half of Americans suffering from noise-induced hearing loss do not work in noisy jobs, so what are Americans doing in their leisure time that causes hearing loss? May 1 marks the beginning of Better Hearing & Speech Month—a time to assess lifestyle habits that may be contributing to hearing loss, as well as schedule a hearing evaluation for anyone with concerns about his/her hearing.

About 40 million U.S. adults aged 20–69 years have noise-induced hearing loss, a form of hearing damage that results from exposure to loud noise. This could be cumulative harm that developed from exposure over time, or it could occur from one severe incident. Although completely preventable, once it occurs, the damage is permanent. Far from simply being an annoyance, hearing loss can affect almost all aspects of life, including physical health, mental health, employment status and success, social functioning and satisfaction, and much more. Hearing loss can be treated through various technologies and techniques under the care of a certified audiologist, but hearing is never fully restored and the risks should not be ignored.

In addition to the dangers posed by listening to earbuds or headphones at too-loud volumes and for too long, noisy settings are commonplace in today’s society, including Baltimore. Many restaurants are specifically designed to elevate noise levels to make establishments feel more lively. Similarly, sports stadiums and arenas are now being built with sound elevation in mind, thought to improve fan experience and provide a home-team advantage. Coffee shops, fitness centers, retail stores, and more, all make modern society a collectively loud place.

I spoke about this topic in November on an In Focus segment on WMAR-TV

Many people report concern for noisy environments, but not nearly enough take protective measures. Here are some simple ways that the public can take charge of their hearing health:

  • Wear hearing protection. Earplugs and earmuffs are portable and inexpensive, and (with a proper fit) offer excellent hearing protection. Bring them along when you know you’ll be in a noisy setting. Better yet, keep them on you at all times!
  • Reduce exposure. Take steps to reduce your exposure to noisy settings. Visit noisy establishments during off times, consider quieter settings, and talk to managers if you find the noise level uncomfortable.
  • See a certified audiologist for a hearing evaluation. A recent government report stated that one in four U.S. adults who report excellent to good hearing already have hearing damage. Many adults do not routinely get their hearing checked, and even those with concern often delay treatment for years. Postponing treatment can have serious medical and mental health repercussions in addition to reducing a person’s quality of life, so visit a certified audiologist if you have any concerns.

This advice about hearing protection goes for just about everyone, from young children to older adults, from those with excellent hearing who want to maintain it, to those who already have hearing loss and don’t want to make it worse. As a society, everyone needs to prioritize hearing and protection and hearing health.

HASA is offering free hearing screenings and hosting an Open House on Saturday, May 20. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required.

Hearing and Speech AgencyHarry and Jeanette Weinberg Building 5900 Metro Drive Baltimore, MD 21215 410.318.6780