May 28, 2014

    Protect your hearing and health

    CONTRARY to popular belief, exposure to loud noises causes more than just hearing loss.

    In addition to being the main cause of hearing loss, a Lund University study found that constant exposure to noise above 64 decibels can increase the chances of getting high blood pressure by almost 90 per cent.

    This means that the volume of typical speech (60 decibels) already puts you at risk, let alone noise from a jack hammer (125 decibels) which is commonly heard in Singapore, given the large amount of construction being carried out.

    Some of the other long-term health effects include sleep disruption, headaches, heart problems and even mental health and behavioural issues.

    For instance, a study published last year in the British Medical Journal found that the risks of stroke, and heart and circulatory diseases are higher in areas with a lot of aircraft noise.

    Many of the seemingly harmless activities in your daily routine are actually putting you on the fast track to permanent hearing damage.

    These include blow-drying your hair (95 decibels) and even just listening to the iPod (105 decibels) for more than four minutes.

    Fans of rock concerts, make sure you give your ears a break as experts warn that you should only be exposed to noise that loud (115 decibels) for not more than 30 seconds.

    However, do not despair as there are ways to protect your hearing.

    First, you should use ear plugs when necessary as they will reduce noise to a comfortable 30 decibels.

    Also, always apply the 60/60 rule when using your iPod or similar devices: Basically, avoid listening to music at a volume no more than 60 per cent of the maximum volume on the device and no longer than 60 minutes.

    When buying noisy items like power tools, you should also look at the sound rating to find a quieter model.

    Symptoms that show that you may be suffering from hearing-related problems include a ringing, buzzing or muffling sound in your ears, difficulty in understanding speech and not being sure of the direction the sound is coming from.

    So make sure you avoid loud noises whenever possible and let your ears take a break.