According to research from Statistics Canada and Canadian Hearing Services, about one third of all Canadians have at least a mild level of hearing loss.
Hearing specialists say one of the main reasons people have hearing loss is because they listen to music that is too loud and for too long on their headphones or ear buds.
Chris Martin of the band Coldplay, Will.I.Am of the Black Eyed Peas and The Who’s Pete Townshend are just some of the many musicians suffering from hearing damage after years of exposure to loud music.
But you don’t have to be a rock star to lose your hearing, as people of all ages are vulnerable and audiologists say it’s important to understand the causes.
“Hearing isn’t damaged just by high level sound, it’s damaged by high level sound over a period of time,” said Audiologist Brian Fligor.
Consumer Reports research found that just 15 minutes at a loud sporting event or a concert can cause hearing damage and just five minutes listening to a very loud TV or from music turned all the way up on your smartphone.
If you crank up music on your iPhone daily your risk for hearing loss increases and you may even get messages warning you on your phone that the volume should be turned down.
“We usually recommend that you wear your headphones at about 60 per cent of the volume for about 60 per cent of the time,” said Rex Banks, the Director of Audiology with Canadian Hearing Services.
One way to minimize the intensity of noises around you is to use noise canceling headphones that shut out background clamor so you can keep the volume at a low level.
“If you’re wearing audio devices with headphones and in your ears and you have to shout to have someone hear you it’s probably too loud and if the person sitting next to you can hear it – it’s probably too loud,” said Banks.
If you operate a lawnmower or power tools regularly wear earmuffs or earplugs that reduce noise back down to a normal conversation level.
Many television sets now come with an automatic turn-down function during commercials and loud, action-packed scenes. It’s usually found in the “assistive features” in your TV sound settings and may be called “auto volume” or “dynamic range protection.”
Also, if you think you may have hearing loss, consider getting your ears tested and the earlier you get hearing help, the better.
As we get older it’s normal to have some hearing loss, but the affects of loud noises and music also accumulate over time.
The best advice is to protect your hearing no matter how old you are.