A threat and four solutions…
If a doctor told you that every time you went to a high-decibel music event, you might lose a bit of vision, would you swear off concerts?
Or if a researcher said that your music player and in-ear buds could make you visually impaired, would you shrug it off and still go for the high volume?
My guess is that you might change your life and your listening habits. After all, who wants to go blind?
Well, evidently some people are willing to go deaf because they continue the lifestyle of the loud and thunderous even though docs say that continued high volume noise is literally deafening.
Making sense of ear-splitting behavior
I try to understand why so many people refuse to listen to medical experts about the connection between ear-splitting noise and hearing loss. Last week, the Journal of the American Medical Association even reported that one in five teens was already experiencing some hearing loss. So teens are losing it and they are just in the first quartile of life!
My guess is that people blow off hearing loss because they just can’t imagine it. After all, it is hard to pretend to be a deaf person. On the other hand, it’s easy to know what it would be like to be blind. Just close your eyes. That’s an immediate, dramatic sensation. But possible hearing loss isn’t as easily dramatized. And if you can’t see a threat, you tend to discount or ignore it. (Case in point: global warming.)
Whatever the cause of indifference, it’s obvious that people continue to go to loud movies, to deafening concerts and to turn up their music players to number 10 on the volume dial.
Four things to do
First, besides nagging your children and grandchildren—you can tell them to listen to their music through noise-cancelling headphones.
The usual little buds people put into their ears don’t block out the surrounding noise, so people turn the volume way up so they can hear over the jet engine, the traffic or the bus. But noise-cancelling headphones block out ambient sounds so music can be played at lower volume.
Second, you can protect your own ears by carrying earplugs. I always have a pair in my purse for loud movies and sound systems. I used to tear up Kleenex and stuff it in my ears, but I looked like Peter Rabbit….so I upgraded to real earplugs which cost almost next to nothing at the drug store.
Third, avoid the predictable situations…going to concerts where the drum is so loud you can feel it in your feet or sitting right in front of a sound system or running mowers and blowers without ear protection. (My vacuum sounds like a jet engine and I use noise-cancelling headphones to do housework. OK, I look like a dork, but better dorky than deaf.)
Fourth—this involves nagging again—you can implore the hearing-impaired person in your life to get past the usual denial stage and buy hearing aids. (I have wondered if the high-volume TV needed by the hearing-impaired is deafening their housemates.)
And here’s one last thought about high-volume TV listening or booming music playing—-maybe it’s like smoking. You don’t do it near loved ones.