Tag: tips & tricks

Get That Gym Workout — Without Hurting Your Ears | Protecting Your Hearing

Making Moves — and Protecting Your Hearing, Too! Planning to bust some moves at the gym as part of your 2019 goals? You’re not alone. Excess noise and good hearing health don’t mix. Read on for four easy tips.

Planning to bust some moves at the gym as part of your 2019 goals? You’re not alone. As a tried-and-true strategy for losing weight, feeling more fit, or simply stepping up physical activity for overall wellness, working out is a perennially popular New Year’s resolution, and exercise classes can be a fun way to fit the bill.

The catch? Whether it’s cycling, kickboxing, step aerobics, dance, or another high-energy track, these classes often crank up the music to harmful levels — well above the danger threshold of 85 decibels — giving your ears a workout you didn’t bargain for. It can lead to instant or gradual hearing loss that could be permanent.

To protect your hearing while getting into the exercise groove, here are four things you can do:

Speak Up

Turning down the volume in the first place goes a long way toward reducing the risk of noise-induced hearing loss. If the music seems too loud, consider asking the instructor before class begins or during a cool-down break to lower the volume. Better yet, explore different gyms and fitness studios and their approach to noise management before choosing the facility for your needs.

Wear Earplugs

Keeping earplugs in your car or gym bag helps ensure you’ll have a pair on hand. They’re small enough to fit in your ear but effective enough to help soften the loudest sounds while still allowing you to hear. Inexpensive varieties are available at most pharmacies. Consider a customized set from your local audiologist to help ensure a secure fit during high-intensity exercise.

Keep Your Distance

The closer you are to the sound source, the bigger the burden on your ears, so try to pick a spot as far away from the speakers as possible. That can be harder to do in a smaller room — especially if speakers are along the wall and the ceiling, too — but every bit of space between you and the epicenter of the noise can make a difference.

Take a Break

Keeping your noise exposure to 15 minutes or less amid 100-plus decibel levels and no more than a minute amid 110-plus decibel levels — per public-health recommendations — might seem a tall order during your favorite aerobics session. Frequent or prolonged noise exposure, however, increases the chance of lifelong hearing damage, so consider leaving class for a water break or an alternate activity during the loudest moments.

We’re here to support you in your wellness goals. For custom hearing protection or more tips on keeping your hearing safe while working out, contact our caring team today!

Are Portable Music Players Putting Your Ears at Risk?

Turn the Music Up, Dude — But Not Past 85 Decibels

You probably use your tablet or smartphone often to stream music, TV shows, or movies. In fact, many websites these days auto-play videos regardless of whether you want them to.

Smartphones, tablets, and other types of portable music players (PMPs) are now commonplace, as are earbuds and headphones. But if your PMP is turned up too loud while wearing earbuds or headphones, you can damage your hearing quickly. Let’s look at why.

NIHL

This isn’t some new sports league — NIHL stands for noise-induced hearing loss, and it’s the second-largest cause of hearing loss worldwide.

You’re able to hear because of hair cells in your inner ear. These cells convert sound signals to electrical signals and send them to your brain, where they’re interpreted as sounds. But loud sounds can actually damage or destroy your hair cells.

Every time a hair cell gets damaged, you lose a little bit of your ability to hear, and that damage can’t be repaired. The result is NIHL.

How Headphones Hurt Your Hearing

Navigating noise is all about the decibels (a measure of sound pressure). You’re safe if the sound in question stays below 85 decibels (dB); above that, you’re in the action zone — protect your ears or risk hearing damage.

For comparison:

  • A clothes dryer = 60 dB
    No need for hearing protection
  • A gas lawn mower = 91 dB
    Exposure can damage hearing in 2 hours
  • A tractor =100 dB
    Exposure can damage hearing in 15 minutes
  • A chain saw = 112 dB
    Exposure can damage hearing in less than 1 minute

Some PMPs can generate 112 dB — in other words, if you like to listen to your PMP at full volume, you’re likely pumping a chain saw’s worth of noise at your ears from centimeters away.

Why Protecting Your Hearing Matters

Hearing loss is connected to overall health in surprising ways. It’s been linked to depression, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cognitive decline, dementia, and other health concerns.

But it’s not just a concern for later in life: One study found that any degree of hearing loss early in life increases a child’s risk for language and learning problems.

Considering that one study of PMP use in 9-to 11-year-olds reported that 9 in 10 children and teens use some form of audio-streaming device for education or recreation, PMPs pose a considerable hearing health risk at all ages.

Indeed, that same study found that 14 percent of the children had measurable hearing loss. In addition, if a child listened to their PMP only once or twice a week, it doubled their chances of hearing loss compared to children who didn’t use a PMP.

What You Can Do

  • Enforce the 60/60 rule. Don’t turn the volume of your PMPs up past 60 percent of full volume, and turn the device off completely after listening for 60 minutes so your ears can have a break.
  • Use headphones instead of earbuds. With earbuds, you pick up background noise, which often leads to turning up the volume on the PMP to hear the audio better. Headphones that surround the ear keep the background noise to a minimum, allowing you to leave the volume at or below 60 percent. Even better, invest in noise-canceling headphones.
  • If you must use earbuds, make them in-ear earbuds. With these earbuds, the earpiece sits inside the ear canal, rather than just outside it. The sleeve around the speaker blocks out background noise and keeps your audio from escaping the ear canal.
  • Use the sound limiter built into the PMP. Many devices allow you to limit how loud the volume goes, or the device has a built-in alert telling you you’re risking hearing damage by pushing the volume higher.
  • For kids, get volume-limiting headphones. Though there are many child-friendly options for headphones that will keep the volume from going over 85, it’s best to read up on whichever pair you choose to buy. Research by Wirecutter found that, of more than 30 brands tested, almost half were not effective at keeping the volume below 85 dB.

How High Humidity Can Affect Hearing Aids and What You Can Do About It

Humidity means moisture, which can effect your hearing aids. Find out the signs of moisture damage and steps you can take to prevent it from happening.

One of the great things about starting your better-hearing journey is that your world is more enjoyable when you can hear all those sounds you’ve been missing.

That might also mean you’re getting outside more, possibly exposing your hearing devices to humidity. Your hearing aids are tiny computers, and just like with laptops and tablets, moisture can present a challenge.

Humidity

Let’s discuss humidity first. Simply put, humidity is a measurement of the amount of water vapor in the air.

Hot air can hold a lot of water vapor, but cold air cannot. When hot air meets cold air, the drop in temperature means a drop in how much water vapor the air can hold.

Let’s consider a can of soda pop: When humid air makes contact with a cold can of soda pop, the air temperature around the can drops quickly. Any water vapor from the humid air that can’t fit in the cold air around the pop can has to go somewhere. That’s when condensation happens, creating the water droplets on the side of the can.

Humidity and Hearing Devices

The why

Humidity affects hearing aids in a couple of ways.

First, just like with condensation on that can of soda pop, moisture results when warm, humid air meets the cooler metal components of your hearing devices. This includes the components inside your devices.

Second, humidity makes you sweat — but humidity also makes it harder for the sweat to evaporate. Plenty of that ends up in or on your devices.

The how

How does all this condensation and perspiration cause trouble?

Moisture clogs ports and openings. It also builds up in tubing, which can affect the frequency response of your hearing technology. It can also corrode components and battery contact points or short-circuit the microphones and receivers.

In short, moisture is like kryptonite to your hearing aids. A little exposure won’t matter all that much, but prolonged exposure will do a lot of damage and affect the performance of your devices.

The what

Common signs of moisture damage include:

  • Sound is full of static or crackling
  • Sound is distorted
  • Sound cuts out during loud noises
  • Sound fades in and out
  • Device works intermittently
The fix

If you suspect you have moisture damage, do a general check first to make sure it’s not something easily solvable. Is the device turned on? Are the batteries in correctly or near the end of their life? Do the battery contacts need to be cleaned or dried? Is the tubing intact? How are the filters and ports?

If all else checks out, it could be a moisture problem. If you have in-the-ear technology, get them in your drying device ASAP, with the battery door open.

If you have behind-the-ear technology, check the earmold tubing for moisture. If at all possible, use an earmold puffer to remove the moisture. Then put your technology in your drying device ASAP, with the battery door open.

In either case, leave the devices in the dryer for a few hours, even if they look dry.

Prevention

Common, effective preventive measures include:

  • Choosing devices with nanocoating or a high IP (water resistance) rating
  • Hearing aid sweatbands that allow sound through but keep moisture out
  • Exercising during the cooler parts of the day
  • Removing your technology when exercising
  • Keeping your technology in a drying device when not in use

Contact us via email or call us now at (918) 532-6539 for a complimentary clean and check of your hearing technology.