Are Earplugs The New Rubbers?

Are Earplugs The New Rubbers?

Earplugs are being used as prophylactics or the new rubbers

Loud Rock Concert

Loud Rock Concert

I remember the first time I saw someone wearing earplugs casually. My friend Christa and I were at a rock concert at Pacific Standard Tavern, which boasts New Haven’s most modern sound system outside of College Street Music Hall, when I noticed two blue cones protruding from her ears.

My first response was alarm. Christa went to more concerts than anyone I knew. I felt betrayed, as though the earplugs were an admission that Christa really was not there for the music, just for the scene.

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You have something in your ears, I told her.

She turned and said, “I know.”

I barely heard her with my naked ears. I realized I hardly heard myself. But she had heard me.

From small clubs to big theaters, music shows have been getting louder for at least a generation. But earplug use hasn’t caught up. Is it starting to? Are they the new rubbers?

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In between songs, music fans are having that debate.

typicalsoundlevelscrAccording to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, hearing protectors enhance speech comprehension in loud places the way sunglasses enhance vision in extreme brightness. The rule of thumb is that noise damages your hearing if you are at arm’s length and have to shout to make yourself heard.

So basically, every rock, rap, or electronic concert I have ever been to has subtly chipped away at my inner ear.

Christa started wearing earplugs after a music festival friend of hers developed a nasty case of tinnitus, a constant ringing in your ears that makes it nearly impossible to sleep without some sort of white noise — an open window, a television humming — to mitigate the high-pitched whine in your head.

ear-defense-packaging-265x415Studies haven’t conclusively documented the benefits or earplugs, but do suggest that they do eliminate at least some short-term hearing loss, according to this report from Reuters. One key factor: Using them right.

In an interview with the Independent, Dr. Elias Michaelides, director of theYale Center for Hearing and Balance, confirmed research indicating that as many as one in five teens suffer from hearing loss, and those numbers are only getting worse. The latest study, from JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery, concludes that loud music at live events is at least partly responsible for that loss.

“We don’t know if younger ears are more vulnerable,” Dr. Michaelides said, “but when you are young you still have a hearing reserve so you might not notice the damage at all.” Damage can be caused by the cumulative effects of loudness over time, not just noise trauma. The inner ear never regenerates.

Michaelides explained exactly what is happening when your ears start ringing.

“Essentially, the cochlea of your inner ears contain long rows of haired cells,” he said. When these hairs pick up vibrations from sound waves, those are converted into nerve signals. Really loud sound damages the cell hairs through over-stimulation. The eardrum only tears when it pops, which is unusual unless you are standing close to a grenade or smacked directly in your ear.”

It’s not hard to understand how these cell hairs get overstimulated. The distortion in the sound in this video from a (really good) Mates of State show at BAR is because of the sheer volume of the music, and this video was shot from behind the house’s speaker, not in front of it.

Michaelides regularly sees the worst cases, those who come in after days or weeks of constant ringing. His patients often admit that the last show they went to was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

“Hearing protection is a valid medical preventative precaution,” he said.


Medical plans rarely cover earplugs; if musicians declare their creative income, earplugs should be tax deductible. Prescription earplugs can range into the hundreds of dollars, but many are happy with what they’ve gotten. The over-the-counter versions are cheaper — a pack of 14 pairs of foam earplugs runs about $5 at Walgreens — but they are possibly too effective. Alternativeky, a really good pair of earplugs can be purchased from Amazon.

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Dr Hilary Jones Says That Hearing Loss Raises Risk Of Dementia

Dr Hilary Jones Says That Hearing Loss Raises Risk Of Dementia

Dr Hilary Jones Raises Awareness Saying That Hearing Loss Increases The Chances Of Dementia

Dr Hilary Jones

Dr Hilary Jones

Dr Hilary Jones – A TV doctor is in Guernsey to raise awareness of the importance of paying attention to hearing loss, saying it can increase the chances of dementia.

Dr Hilary Jones says it’s vital islanders get their hearing checked as there are currently 4m people in the UK with hearing loss that is undiagnosed.

He told ITV News hearing loss can have an impact on your general health, explaining that it makes someone two to five times more likely to develop dementia.

Dr Jones say that’s because the condition can make a person feel cut off, confused and even paranoid.

Dr Jones says age is a major factor in hearing loss, but there are ways to prevent it:

  • Keep music and TV levels low
  • Protect ears from a young age by keeping MP3 levels down
  • Get your hearing checked as soon as you notice any problems

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Truths About Hearing Loss That Your Didn’t Know

Truths About Hearing Loss That Your Didn’t Know

Some Truths About Hearing Loss That You Might Not Know

hearing-loss-impacts 3Hearing loss is a massive problem, and it is getting worse. hearing loss does not affect only seniors. In fact, with the rise of portable music players, many teens are cranking up the volume, putting their hearing at risk. Here are some Truths About Hearing Loss.

An estimated 15 percent of adults report some trouble hearing, and men are more likely to endure hearing problems than women. One in eight Americans have hearing loss in both ears, and two percent of Americans aged 45 to 54 live with debilitating hearing loss, which increases with age. As you can see, hearing loss is a pressing issue that affects just about everyone.

There is a lot of information on hearing loss, but unfortunately not much of it is true. Here is what you need to know when it comes to hearing loss.

myths-debunkedCommon hearing loss myths debunked

  1. Hearing loss in an inevitable part of aging: False.

Although many changes occur through aging, hearing loss isn’t necessarily one of them. What is true, though, is the longer you wait to treat your hearing problem the worse it can become.

2. You should wait until your hearing gets really bad to see a specialist: False.

As mentioned, the longer you wait to correct your hearing the worse it will become. By addressing your hearing problem early on your brain can begin to reprogram itself, improving your auditory system.

3. Speaking louder helps people with hearing loss understand you: False.

Speaking loudly doesn’t mean a person with hearing loss will understand you better. Instead, speak in a normal tone, clearly, while looking directly at the person.

4. Your doctor will tell you if your hearing is bad: False.

A study has shown only 17 to 30 percent of family physicians perform cursory hearing tests and none performs full hearing tests. If you have concerns about your hearing, ask to be referred to a specialist.

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5. People with hearing loss can read lips: Partially true.

Some individuals are able to read lips, but this is not the general rule for everyone. In either case, ensure the person you are speaking to can see your lips.

6. Hearing aids don’t work: False.

Maybe you knew someone whose hearing aids just weren’t for them. There are many reasons as to why a person may believe hearing aids don’t work, but those with moderate to severe hearing loss can experience great relief from using hearing aids.

7. Hearing loss is common in seniors: False.

As mentioned, hearing loss is actually becoming a growing problem in all age groups – younger ones included. In fact, 65 percent of those who wear hearing aids are under the age of 65, and 60 percent of them are still in school or workforce.

Believing these common hearing loss myths could be jeopardizing your hearing. Know the facts when it comes to hearing loss, and have yourself checked to see where you and your ears stand.

It’s so noisy I can’t hear myself think

It’s so noisy I can’t hear myself think

Do You Remember Your Ma Asking Shouting “It’s so noisy I can’t hear myself think”

It’s so noisy I can’t hear myself thinkThe title of this column was an oft-repeated complaint my mother would make to me when friends and I would become a little out of bounds in our playful fun. Looking back, as a single child, growing up in the 1930s and ’40s, our household was a relatively quiet one. I was reminded of her remark recently when visiting a new, local restaurant on Friday evening where I was enveloped in a constant din of noise; even after asking for a “quiet table.” The veal dish was very good but I probably won’t go back and it started me thinking about noise levels, even in our suburban area.

The booming population growth along with the proliferation of electronic gadgets such as boom boxes and car stereos, as well as more automobiles, trains, buses, motorcycles and aircraft has resulted in our being constantly surrounded by noise; even our household tools like dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, hair dryers and leaf blowers add to the din. Sound intensity is measured in decibels; the unit A-weighted dBA is how humans hear a given sound. Zero dBA is the point at which a person begins to hear sound. A busy freeway at 50 feet away is 80dBA and even brief exposure to sound levels exceeding 120dBA can actually cause physical pain.

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Studies have shown that the constant roar of jet aircraft can cause higher blood pressure, boost stress levels and even affect learning abilities. Other studies reveal that places that are the quietest are the healthiest.

noisy-damaging-environments2The city of Amsterdam, after doing research on noise pollution, created quiet, outdoor spaces in which to pause and relax in an urban environment. As long as 15 years ago, the World Health Organization stated that increasing worldwide noise levels were the most prevalent and irreversible occupational hazard resulting in hearing loss. According to acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton, the U.S. has only 12 remaining truly “quiet places,” defined as somewhere you can go for at least 15 minutes without hearing artificial sound at dawn, the hour when sound travels the farthest. While there are preserves created to protect rivers and forests, not one place on Earth is set off-limits to noise pollution. Before there is an extinction of quiet, Mr. Hempton suggests we write to our senators and ask them to preserve natural “soundscape” by supporting legislation to restrict air traffic over wilderness areas.

Listen To Your Ma’s Wise Words And Buy Your Earplugs here.

ear-defense-packaging-265x415Our acute hearing developed as an early warning system but even when people remain asleep, noise causes blood pressure spikes and the release of stress hormones; it affects us psychologically even when we aren’t consciously aware of it. We may or may not be aware of low-level TV and cell phone conversations in almost every public space but they affect our ability to indulge in quiet contemplation; a necessary practice for both spiritual and intellectual growth.

Despite living on the top floor of an apartment building one block away from the Branford Green, I am disturbed by the loud music from speakers on acoustical steroids when they have their summer jazz concerts. Perhaps I should emulate the Japanese and start wearing ear plugs. On second thought, I prefer the solution of Les Bloomberg, who started the Noise Pollution Clearing House in Montpelier, Vermont. Constantly bothered by street sweepers at night, his complaints fell on “deaf ears” until he finally got the home phone numbers of city officials and called them at night when he was awakened by the sweepers. The result? Streets in the town of Montpelier are now cleaned during the day and Les sleeps soundly at night. Have a quietly happy Memorial Day, everyone.

Jean Cherni

Listen To Your Ma’s Wise Words And Buy Your Earplugs here.

How Hearing Loss Impacts in Older Adults

How Hearing Loss Impacts in Older Adults

Have You Ever Thought About How Hearing Loss Impacts in Older Adults?

Hearing Loss ImpactsMore than 33 percent of older Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 have hearing loss. And 50 percent of those 75 and up suffer from some level of deafness, according to the National Institute on Deafness and other Communications Disorders (NIDCD).

Sadly, most hearing loss goes untreated.

Six of 10 people with moderate-to-severe hearing loss do not use hearing aids, says James Firman, president of the National Council on Aging and founder of the United Seniors Health Cooperative (USHC), a nonprofit consumer organization. “I can guarantee you, as a person with a moderate to severe loss, that there is no way that you are doing fine and getting along fine if that hearing loss is not treated,” he explains.

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But what exactly are the effects of hearing loss on older adults?

  • Hearing Loss Impacts 2Hearing loss can impact personal relationships, physical health, and a person’s overall quality of life.
  • Hearing Loss Can Lead to Lower Quality Relationships

A number of studies have shown that hearing loss can negatively impact personal relationships. Older adults with hearing loss may withdraw from conversations because they can’t understand what is being said, or they might talk more to compensate for their inability to hear. It can cause them to monopolize conversations without truly interacting with others.

In one study of 4,000 people with hearing difficulties, those who didn’t wear hearing aids were “more likely to be viewed as being confused, disoriented, non-caring, arrogant, [and] inattentive” by family members and loved ones.

  • Additionally, the same study discovered that “interpersonal warmth in relationships significantly declined as hearing loss worsened.”

hearing-loss-impacts 3While these side effects may not directly affect an older adult’s independence, they can lead to depression. We now know depression can worsen other illnesses or even lead to new problems, such as heart disease and high blood pressure.

Ultimately, these illnesses can reduce a person’s ability to live independently.

  • Hearing Loss Can Put Older Adults in Danger

But it’s not just an older adult’s mental well-being that can suffer. Seniors with untreated hearing loss can put themselves in physical danger if they:

  • Fail to hear a doctor’s instructions properly and don’t take the right dose of prescription medicine
  • Can’t hear a smoke detector go off
  • Don’t hear someone knocking at the door or even hear an intruder in the house at night
  • Are driving and don’t hear another driver honk the horn
  • Are walking and fail to take note of oncoming traffic

How Hearing Loss Affects Quality of Life

An older adult who can’t be trusted to take the correct medicine, cannot drive safely, or finds it hard to socialize with groups of people risks a lower quality of life and loss of independence.

Hearing loss can create a cascading effect that leads to other health issues but, even on its own, it puts seniors at risk in their own homes and while traveling.

Fortunately, in many cases the use of a hearing aid can restore the quality of life and the ability to live independently.

Don’t Risk Losing Your Hearing In The First Place.

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Noise Hazard Alert

Noise Hazard Alert



Noise Hazard Alert Information

Noise-induced hearing loss is one of the most common work-related illnesses in the United States. Each year approximately 22 million U.S. workers are exposed to noise loud enough to damage their hearing.

Through the appropriate use of personal protective equipment such as hearing protection, separating workers from noisy equipment or processes as much as possible and by implementing “buy quiet” programs, employers can reduce the risk of hearing loss for workers.

As part of the effort to raise awareness of noise hazards and steps contractors can take to protect their employees from job-related noise induced hearing loss, the OSHA-NIOSH-CPWR r2p Working Group developed a new series of infographics. These infographics aim to raise awareness of the risk, offer steps to prevent hearing loss and raise awareness about NIOSH’s Buy Quiet resources. Built off of the NIOSH Buy Quiet video and data in the Center for Construction Research and Training’s (CPWR) Construction Chart Book, the infographics reinforce the message that hearing loss can be prevented.

CPWR offers for public download both a noise hazard alert and a toolbox talk on noise hazards, (and you can order the hazard alert in printed brochure format at no charge).

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