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  • Thomas Pilla

Practice Safe Listening

The concept of practicing safe listening may seem to be a bit silly. After all, if the noise doesn't hurt your ears, it should be safe. Right? Not necessarily. Some sounds, like a band at a rock concert, the sound of a factory or even the noise of a busy city street, that are heard repeatedly for a long period of time can cause hearing loss.

Noise induced hearing loss can happen gradually. The condition is often invisible, yet it can hurt a person's sense of well-being tremendously.

The negative effects of untreated hearing loss are widespread because of how it affects communication. In younger people who are pursuing careers, it can lead to lost opportunities such as missed promotions because of social isolation or the inability to communicate effectively. In older people, hearing loss has been linked to cognitive decline and higher rates of dementia.

In fact, older people are more likely to isolate themselves socially out of the fear of embarrassing themselves by saying something that either doesn't fit in the conversation or just seems dumb. Avoiding social situations that were once easy can lead not only to cognitive decline, but also to loneliness and depression.

While there are times when hearing loss is unavoidable, such as when one is born with it, or when an unforeseen accident happens, most noise-induced hearing loss can be avoided by practicing safe listening. When driving through a busy city street, roll the windows up. When listening to the radio, don't turn it up any louder than necessary to hear the music or understand what's being said. And if you're in a noisy situation that you cannot avoid, wear hearing protection.

Your ability to hear is precious, since it connects you to the world, and that connection is vital. Treasure it and protect it for as long as you can.

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