How to protect your hearing

Hearing loss can't always be prevented – sometimes it's just part of getting older. But hearing loss due to exposure to loud noises is completely avoidable.

What is NIHL hearing loss and how can it be prevented?

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is the only preventable cause of hearing loss. 


Although you may adjust to the loud sounds over time, unfortunately, your ears and brain will not. Once you lose your hearing from exposure to loud sounds, known as a NIHL, your hearing will not recover.  NIHL is typically gradual; by the time you notice it, it is often too late to prevent damage. Follow the tips below and learn what you can do to protect your hearing and prevent damage!

Hearing protection tips

  1. Whenever you are exposed to loud sounds you are risking damage to your hearing. Clubs, concerts, lawnmowers, chainsaws, and any other noises that force you to shout so the person next to you can hear your voice all create dangerous levels of sound. In this case, we recommend using earplugs. Earplugs are convenient and easy to obtain. You can choose foam earplugs - an economical solution, or choose to purchase a pair of custom-fitted earplugs from your local healthcare provider. For environments with loud music, such as concerts and clubs, the best ear plugs to use are musicians plugs. These earplugs are designed in a way that allows a person to hear conversations and music but still reduce harmful sound levels, while maintaining the quality of the original sound as closely as possible.

  2. Turn the volume down on your TV, radio, music, etc.

  3. When listening to music or other media at high volumes, earbuds can be especially dangerous, as they fit directly next to the eardrum. Therefore, we suggest opting for noise-cancelling, over-the-ear headphones whenever possible. These types of headphones block out background noise, allowing the volume to be turned down and listened to at quieter levels.

  4. Limit your time exposed to loud sounds. If that’s not possible and you still prefer enjoying music through headphones or earbuds, consider following the 60/60 rule. The suggestion is to listen to music with headphones at no more than 60% volume for no more than 60 minutes a day.

  5. Avoid loud or noisy activities and places when that's possible. Keep in mind that any loud noise (and not just music played through headphones) presents a risk of NIHL. If you’re the one hosting a social event, make sure you keep the music at a volume which won’t force people to shout in order to hold a conversation.

  6. When listening to loud sounds (e.g., music, concerts, fitness classes, etc.), take breaks from the noise.

  7. Move away from the loudest sound source (e.g., speakers, fireworks, etc.).

  8. If you are exposed to loud noises for a longer period of time, like at a concert or a bar, your ears need time to recover. We recommend stepping outside for a couple of minutes every now and then in order to let them rest and recover. Furthermore, some researchers have found that your ears need an average of 16 hours of quiet to recover from one loud night out. Keep this in mind next time you’re planning a night out.

  9. Do not put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear! This includes cotton swabs, bobby pins, keys, paperclips, or anything else you might use to clean or scratch your ears. If you have excess wax and feel you need to clean it, we recommend you clean around the canal with a damp towel—gently. You can also use an ear wax removal solution over the course of a few nights. This softens the wax so that it will eventually flow out on its own. If you think you have excess earwax, the best and safest solution is always to visit a hearing healthcare professional for assistance.

  10. Keep moving! Exercise keeps the blood pumping throughout the body, including the ears. This keeps the internal parts of the ears healthy.

  11. Get your hearing tested, especially if you experience a change in your hearing or ringing or fullness in your ears over 24 hours.

If you have questions or concerns about your hearing, contact a hearing healthcare professional near you by calling 1-888-282-1086 or clicking here.

By Starkey Canada