UMD Gives Tips During “Protect Your Hearing Month”

DULUTH, Minn. — October is “Protect Your Hearing Month” and while we typically bind hearing loss with aging, young people can also be affected.

Fox 21 checked in with UMD’s Speech, Language, and Hearing Clinic to see what people can do to maintain healthy hearing.

Almost everywhere you look, young people have headphones plugged in their ears… often times, listening at high volumes. Now, they might be paying the price for it.

“There was some recent research that looked at how many college students reported some hearing difficulty or had some ringing or buzzing sounds in the ears. As many as 20% of students reported having some hearing difficulty and 60% of students reported having some ringing or buzzing/hissing noises, known as tinnitus,” said UMD Assistant Professor, Brent Fisher.

Assistant Professor Brent Fisher is an audiologist at UMD. He says that those little headphone gadgets can actually cause huge harm to hearing.

Fisher explained, “Listening should be at a level that is still soft enough to have a conversation with people that are around you, and volumes should be left at 50% or less. Some smart phone devices have sound limiting controls on the smart phones that will keep the volume for getting too loud or for having exposure for too long of a period of time.”

Hearing loss can happen gradually over time… or it can happen at the tip of a hat, leading possibly to permanent damage.

“Louder sounds like motorcycles, power tools, chainsaws, firearms… in some cases are loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss in a pretty short amount of time,” said Fisher.

And while much of hearing loss is preventable, that’s not always the case.

“As we get older, there are a number of other causes of hearing loss related to health conditions, heart disease, and sometimes medication that people take, that can have an impact on hearing,” said Fisher.

Fisher says to maintain healthy hearing you should turn down the volume, limit exposure to loud sounds, and if you have to be around extreme noise to use hearing protection such as ear plugs.

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