In everyday life, people experience a number of things that can have a negative impact on hearing ability. For example, cotton buds which are used to clean the ear may not only push the wax deeper in one’s ear but also cause serious and even long-lasting damage to the eardrum. Another potential harm to hearing is posed by headphones, as they isolate the sound so that it enters the ear in a stronger wave.
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Approximately 24.4% of Americans aged 20 to 69 are diagnosed with noise-induced hearing loss (Carroll et al., 2017, para. 10). This means that hearing ability is permanently harmed by the everyday noise that affects vulnerable structures of the inner ear, the cells of which do not regenerate if once damaged. Decibel levels of the most common household appliances may be harmful to one’s hearing over time due to the cumulative effect, let alone occupational noise that a person may encounter on a daily basis. Another hearing hazard in everyday life is busy traffic that, by causing the feeling of fullness in one’s ears, may contribute to the hearing loss in the long run.
Even though the damage inflicted upon hearing is considered to be permanent, it should be noted that it is preventable. Apart from general recommendations to avoid high volumes on personal devices, reduce listening time to high volumes, and use quieter home appliances, there are specific products that can protect and improve hearing. In particular, it is advised to wear earplugs, earmuffs, or other protective devices when involved in a loud activity. There are drugs elaborated by scientists that can protect ears from oxidative stress and thus act as an effective treatment of noise-induced hearing loss (Honkura et al., 2016). Technologies that can improve hearing ability include assistive listening devices, cochlear implants, and personal sound amplification products for non-hearing impaired consumers.
Carroll, Y. I., Eichwald, J., Scinicariello, F., Hoffman, H. J., Deitchman, S., Radke, M. S.,… Breysse, P. (2017). Vital signs: Noise-induced hearing loss among adults — United States 2011–2012. MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 66(5), 139-144. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6605e3
Honkura, Y., Matsuo, H., Murakami, S., Sakiyama, M., Mizutari, K., Shiotani, A.,… Motohashi, H. (2016). NRF2 is a key target for prevention of noise-induced hearing loss by reducing oxidative damage of cochlea. Scientific Reports, 6(1). doi:10.1038/srep19329