National Audiology Awareness Month
Published: Monday, October 1, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 1, 2012 23:10
October marks the beginning of National Audiology Awareness Month.
Audiology is the study of hearing disorders and the rehabilitation of people with hearing impairments. Audiologists devote their time to studying hearing disorders, assessment of hearing, and rehabilitation of hearing.
Brittany Dullard, a PhD. student in the audiology department, said she wants students to be conscious of their “hearing, hearing protection and the dangers of loud noise and music.”
Loud noises, whether from music or other sources, can cause both temporary and permanent hearing loss.
In a study from 2011, the Hear the World initiative surveyed 4,400 people between the ages of 14 and 65 from around the world, and discovered that 85 percent of them played their music players at more than half of the total volume.
Music players on average have the ability to blast up to 120 decibels, which are channeled through your headphones straight into your ear. Most audiologists agree that any levels above 85 decibels can cause long-term damage to hearing.
While the damage isn’t immediately apparent, it can take several months, or even years, for the effects to become noticeable, by which time it’s usually too late.
One of the major concerns of audiologists is that many people, especially teenagers, don’t recognize the severe threat posed by loud sounds.
Long-term exposure to loud sounds can lead not only to hearing loss, though. Other common hearing-related problems include muffled hearing and tinnitus.
Tinnitus is commonly described as a “ringing in the ears,” and while there is no cure for it, it can still be treated.
Treatments include hearing aids; tinnitus maskers, which hide the effects by using white noise and tinnitus retraining therapy, which helps people cope with their tinnitus.
There are many ways to protect hearing. Wearing hearing protectors when using power tools, noisy equipment, or firearms, or when riding a motorcycle, are all ideal times to protect your ears.
There are essentially two forms of hearing protection: earmuffs and earplugs.
Earmuffs rest over the outer ear to form an air seal, so that the entirety of the ear is blocked. They are fitted with an adjustable elastic band, but this band will not work properly if the band is not tight enough, or if the earmuffs are places over glasses or long hair. Earmuffs are sold at most pharmacies.
Earplugs are small inserts that are placed in the outer ear canal. They are available in all different sizes and shapes and can even be custom-made to fit into a specific individual’s ears.
The earplugs must be placed in correctly and sealed tightly so that the entirety of the ear canal is blocked. Plugs that are not fitted properly, are dirty or are worn-out from use can cause irritation in the ear canal.
These can commonly be found at most pharmacies, and can also be seen being given out or sold at concerts, especially those featuring bands that are known for their loud music.