Household Items That Might Damage Your Hearing

Household Items That Might Damage Your Hearing

Blaring sirens, pounding jackhammers, booming kick drums blasting out of passing cars, the roar of a crowd packed into a bar to cheer at a television set: as soon as we leave our homes, so much noise is beyond our control. Exposure to potentially dangerous sound levels has become something that we all have just come to accept as a normal presence in our lives. 

And whether it is military service or playing in a band, many people invest their whole lives into careers that day after day present a risk to their hearing. Military service and playing in a band may have very little in common, but they do both practically guarantee a heightened chance of hearing loss. 

But even beyond these risks that we recognize and accept, what about all the risks that we have never even noticed? Many such risks are common within our own homes. 

Your Two Ways to Mitigate The Risks at Home

Extended amounts of time around any sound that averages 85 dB or higher presents a risk to your hearing. Let’s put that in perspective. Starting at the quietest sounds, your normal breathing is usually about 10 dB and whispering is about 30 dB. 50 dB is a refrigerator’s hum. Normal conversation, relaxed and free from any distracting background noise, usually averages around 60 dB. The subway hits about 90 dB and sirens are about 110-140 dB. 

That range of examples is important to keep in mind when adjusting levels within your own home. How loud is your television? How long have you been playing that video game at that volume?

You have two options to help guarantee your hearing health safety. First you can choose to keep everything that you can set the volume on set to a lower volume. And secondly, things that you cannot control the volume of, you can choose to limit the time that you are exposed to them. 

An example of this first control you have would be your use of earbuds and headphones. The World Health Organization says that loud music is the leading cause of hearing loss worldwide. Wearing our earbuds and headphones has become so normalized, so much a part of our routines, so many hours each week, it is especially important to maintain intentional and healthy listening habits of safe volumes. When attempting to block out background noise, it becomes especially tempting to turn them up, but doing so does not block out the background noise. It compounds the risk. 

Your second means of taking control is limiting your exposure time using loud appliances. Vacuum cleaners, blenders, alarm clocks and hair dryers pose risks in the home. Outside, be aware of how you use your drills, chainsaws, and lawnmower. 

The Other Household Risks to Hearing 

Many people frequently forget that loud noises are not the only risks to our hearing. Conductive hearing loss is the literal and physical blockage of sound by something obstructing your ear. Q-tips are the most common example seeing as they are misused perhaps as often as not and people intentionally poke them into their ears, risking damage to their ear drum. 

Ototoxic chemicals and medications also damage hearing and disrupt our systems of internal balance, putting you at immediate risk even when you are home alone not even trying to do anything. Ototoxic chemicals include certain pesticides and solvents. Ototoxic medications include certain pain relievers, antibiotics and chemotherapy treatments. Tobacco might be the most common ototoxic chemical that people choose to habitually ingest. Nicotine constricts your blood vessels, hindering blood circulation. The reduced blood flow to the capillaries in your ears disturbs your hearing. 

Be aware of what you use and how frequently you use it. Same as noise induced hearing loss, the effects may come on so gradually that they are difficult to notice. 

Little Steps Make a Big Difference

Left untreated, the consequences of hearing loss compound and create far greater health risks than the immediate awareness of your surroundings. Unchecked hearing loss will lead to psychological and emotional damage. 

but prevention begins with simple safe habits. Do not stick things in your ears. Learn about the ototoxic risks of drugs and chemicals that you bring into your home. When things are uncomfortably loud, do not stick around too long. Wear earplugs or earmuffs whenever you might need to. 

You will thank yourself in the future for committing to these simple steps today.