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7 Ways to Protect Your Ears and Prevent Hearing Loss

Posted March 27, 2023 by Amy Welman, Au.D.

Woman in plaid shirt, safety glasses, and headphones using a power saw

Did you know that once you lose your hearing, it often can’t be restored? Protecting your hearing and ear health can help prevent hearing loss and related ear diseases as you age.


According to the U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, about 15 percent of adults in this country have trouble hearing with one or both ears, with the greatest amount of hearing loss in the 60 to 69 age group.


Fortunately, many common causes of hearing loss can be prevented — and you don’t have to stop doing the things you love! You can keep your ears healthy by protecting them from injury and loud noises, such as concerts and fireworks shows, and staying up to date on immunizations and well visits.


While there is no set hearing screening schedule, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association recommends annual hearing tests for adults beginning at age 60 or those at risk for hearing loss, such as people who work in noisy environments. However, if you notice a change in your hearing, or have ringing or fullness in your ears for more than 24 hours, talk to your healthcare provider.


Summa Health offers seven ways you can take steps now to protect your hearing and reduce your risk for hearing loss later in life—because protecting your hearing is important in all stages of life.


  • Avoid loud activities and places whenever possible, such as lawn mowing, power tools and music concerts.
  • If you can’t avoid loud noises, wear proper protection. Using hearing protection, such as earplugs or earmuffs, will help filter extreme noises and reduce your risk of hearing loss.
  • Keep volume low. Keep noise levels on your devices, such as TV, radio and home sound systems at a comfortable level. If you think it’s too loud and you can hear it from another room, it probably is. Don’t forget to keep your volume down on your headphones and earbuds too.
  • Give your ears a break. Give your ears periodic breaks from headphones and other loud noises to reduce your exposure. Also, limit your time exposed to noises above 85 decibels, which can cause hearing loss over time.
  • Give ears time to heal. If you’ve been exposed to loud noises, try to spend some time in a quiet environment for at least a day to give your ears time to rest and recover.
  • Keep up on immunizations. Some illnesses, such as measles, mumps, whooping cough and bacterial infections, can negatively affect your hearing.
  • Don’t put anything in your ears. Do not put anything in your ears, including cotton swabs, which can injure the ear canal or eardrum. Instead, clean your ears with a washcloth over your finger. If you have a buildup of earwax that is affecting your hearing, contact your provider to get it removed. Don’t try to remove it yourself.

So, what is too loud?


If you think your ears will get used to loud noises, think again. In fact, if loud noises don’t bother you as much as they once did, you’ve probably already lost some of your hearing.


Over time, listening to sound that’s 85 decibels or higher can cause hearing loss or problems, such as tinnitus, which is when you experience a ringing sound in your ear that won’t go away. The louder a sound is and the longer you’re exposed to it, the more damage it can cause to your hearing.


Even lawn mowers, movie theaters, motorcycles and sporting events can reach levels over 100 decibels. So, how can you tell when a noise is hurting your hearing?


A good rule of thumb is if there’s so much noise around you that you need to talk loudly or even shout when friends are at an arm’s length away, it’s probably hurting your hearing. Another way to tell is to download a sound meter app on your smartphone that measures noise levels in decibels.


The bottom line is if it seems too loud, it probably is, and you should wear earplugs or go somewhere quieter to protect your hearing.


If you’re concerned about hearing loss, talk to your healthcare provider. Hearing loss is often gradual and can go undetected unless checked.

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About the Author

Amy Welman, Au.D.

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