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Protect your hearing

News — Posted 24/08/14

Hearing loss affects 3.5 million Australians, half of whom are working age. Know the facts this Hearing Awareness Week, 24-30 August 2014.

Hearing Awareness Week is an opportunity to raise community awareness of hearing impairment and ways you can protect your hearing to prevent future problems.

Supported by the Australian Government Department of Health and the Deafness Forum of Australia, the event is also an opportunity for the 22% of Australians aged 15 years and over who have a hearing impairment to share their experiences and knowledge and help to create a greater understanding of their needs and aspirations.

Hearing loss can be caused by:

• Hereditary conditions

• Infectious diseases

• Prolonged exposure to excessive noise

• The effects of aging

If you are concerned about your hearing, it's a good idea to take steps to tackle the problem early on. People who are fitted with hearing aids early are likely to get more benefit from them than those who put up with hearing loss for years before seeking help.

It can take up to 15 years for people who clearly have hearing loss to get tested - a key reason for those long years in denial is the stigma of hearing loss.

During Hearing Awareness Week, there are opportunities to check your hearing for free and to find out more information ways to protect your hearing to prevent further damage.

Loud noise and hearing loss

Hearing Awareness Week says one of the key ways to protect your hearing is to manage the amount of loud noise you are exposed to on a regular basis.

"Most cases of deafness are caused by damage to the tiny hair cells in the inner ear. This damage can be the result of too much noise, and it’s permanent. Noise-related hearing loss is usually irreversible.

"It is important that we all take steps to prevent noise-related damage. The key to keeping your hearing intact is to avoid loud noise."

Safe listening tips

As a general rule, the louder the sound, the less time you can safely listen to it. Of course, that's not to say we can't enjoy listening to music on our iPods and seeing live bands – it just means we need to be sensible about it and take steps to reduce the chances of damage being caused.

• Hearing Awareness Week provides the following tips for safer listening:

• Use the 60:60 rule. Listen to your music at 60% of the MP3 player's maximum volume for no more than 60 minutes a day.

• Turn down the dial. Turn down the volume on your TV, radio or hi-fi a notch.

• Use earplugs when you’re listening to live music. They can reduce average sound levels by between 15 and 35 decibels.

• Don't put up with work noise. Talk to your human resources department.

• Wear ear protectors

• Be careful in the car. Listening to music in a confined space increases the risk of hearing damage.

• Don’t listen to music too loud for too long.

• Give your ears time to recover after they’ve been exposed to loud noise.

More information at hearingawarenessweek.org.au

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