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Protecting Your Hearing Health

Whether you are out on the road working with loud asphalt pavers or listening to a TXAPA video at your computer, it is always a good idea to be aware of the volume of the sounds around you. Approximately 15% of Americans have noise-induced hearing loss because of loud work or leisure environments. Take a moment to check your sound levels and follow these easy steps to protect your ears and hearing health:

Turn down the volume. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1.1 billion teens and adults worldwide are at risk for noise-induced hearing loss from unsafe use of audio devices. When using headphones or earbuds, follow the 60-60 rule. This suggests listening with headphones at no more than 60% volume for no more than 60 minutes a day. Keep in mind, your earbuds naturally increase the volume by about 9 decibels because they sit inside your ears. Headphones are a safer choice as they produce less natural amplification.

Use earplugs regularly. When using machinery that is so loud you must shout to the person next to you to be heard, it is time to put earplugs in. Loud sounds are classified as higher than 85 decibels. A jackhammer, for example, is 130dB. At 120dB, permanent hearing loss can occur with just one hour of exposure. Once your hearing is damaged, it is gone for good. Areas where you would expect to see ear protection notices posted include: any grinding operations, near woodworking equipment and other saws, around compressors and conveyors, and around machinery where employees are within a 15-foot radius.

Maintain your ear health with good practices. A healthy ear drum starts with a healthy ear canal. Contrary to popular belief, it is not recommended to use cotton swabs to clean wax from your ears. Use an ear wax removal solution instead and wipe your ears after showering with a towel. Keeping your ears dry will prevent bacterial infections such as swimmer's ear which can damage your hearing.

Stay healthy! Did you know that exercise is good for your ears? Cardio exercises get the blood pumping to all parts of your body, including your ears. This helps your eardrums stay healthy and work to their maximum potential. Getting plenty of rest and quiet time is essential for ear recovery to prevent hearing loss. Researchers have found that your ears need an average of 16 hours of quiet to recover from one loud night. October is National Protect Your Hearing Month. Follow these simple tips to prevent hearing loss and to keep your ears healthy.

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