Everyone is at risk for hearing loss

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) - There will be lots of activity over the long 4th of July weekend. That means loud fireworks, live music, personal listening devices and more. When fall rolls around, there will be hunting, football games, then holidays and loud malls. The one thing all of these activities have in common is noise.

"Loud intense noise can cause damage and that damage it causes is permanent," said Dr. Christopher Spankovich, a research audiologist at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Hearing damage occurs in a sneaky fashion. Dr. Spankovich says symptoms might be subtle at first.

"Some of the initial effects can be diminished understanding, particularly of speech and noise," he said.

As hearing loss progresses, some of the symptoms can be annoying.

"Other things that can come along with noise exposure is tinnitus," said Dr. Spankovich. "Tinnitus is a ringing, buzzing or humming sensation in the ear without any external source."

Noise creates a lot of excitement in life. Dr. Spankovich says just be smart about it. He suggests noise canceling or sound isolating headphones.

For hunters firing guns, Dr. Spankovich says here are specialized hearing devices that will amplify the environment where they are listening, but muffle when a gun is shot.

For music lovers, listening to tunes at 50% or less allows them to listen almost all day.

"The higher the intensity you are listening to that music, the shorter the duration you can listen to it without potentially putting yourself at risk for hearing loss," said Dr. Spankovich. "The lower the intensity you listen to, the longer the duration."

Once auditory nerves are damaged or destroyed, the normal hearing you once had will never be restored to the same quality. That's why Dr. Spankovich puts a heavy emphasis on education and counseling.

"Hearing is a very critical element to our connection with other people and our ability to communicate."

There are several websites that can help people learn to prevent hearing loss. A couple of them are Turn it to the Left and Dangerous Decibels.

Two websites tailored to children are Listen to your Buds and Noisy Planet.

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