Eric Murray Hearing loss is preventable
February 8, 2009
What would you do if you could no longer hear I love you from your loved ones? Or hear the calls for help from your children?Our hearing is something we all depend on and sometimes take for granted.We have come to live in a very noisy world with big trucks, construction everywhere, MP3 players, cell phones, even people talking loud enough to be heard over everything else. Then after a long day we go home with our heads pounding. Can you imagine the cumulative effects of what we put our hearing through in a day, let alone our entire lives? If you hear that high-pitched ringing tone inside your ear, (tinnitus), this could be a sign of hearing loss. What is worse is that our children are at greater risk. With all the electronics available to the younger generation, why wouldnt they have some kind of music device plugged into there ears and turned up way too loud?Over time, the wear and tear on your ears from noise contributes to hearing loss by damaging your inner ear and you cant reverse hearing loss. That is why we need to educate ourselves and our families about how important it is to prevent hearing loss.Here are some decibel ranges of every day sound levels:Safe range A whisper is 30 decibels; heavy traffic or garbage disposal is about 80 Risk rangeA loud motorcycle or lawnmower is about 85-90 decibels; a chain saw or jack hammer is about 110. Injury rangeAn ambulance siren is about 120 decibels. Dr. Tralla, otolaryntologist (ear, nose & throat specialist), reminds us to take the time to put on ear protection before operating machinery such as chain saws and snow blowers. Most people dont realize they also need ear protection while driving a motorcycle or snowmobile due to the wind blowing past their ears. Its not only the sound of traffic and the engine noise but the rush of wind past the ears and possibly a high pitched whistle as the air passes through the goggles or air holes in the helmet.Hearing loss is preventable. Dr. Tralla recommends keeping disposable ear plugs in your jacket pocket or in the glove box of your vehicle. We need to take several precautions to protect our hearing from even the day-to-day noises. Remember to protect your ears when working in loud environments by wearing ear plugs that muffle the sound. Turn down the volume on your music or get volume control protectors for your childrens MP3 players. Take time out from the noise as often as you can, and when you cant avoid noise, use ear plugs your ears will appreciate it. Thanks to Dr. Tralla, visiting specialty surgeon at the Kremmling Memorial Hospital Specialty Clinic, and to Rebecca Munroe, freelance writer, for their contributions to this weeks column.