6 on Your Side, Consumer Confidence: Protect Your Hearing All Day Long

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(ABC 6 NEWS) – Whether it’s playing in a college band, cranking up the headphones too loud, or just using power tools without proper ear protection, most of us will experience some sort of hearing loss when we get older. The good news is there are steps we can take to preserve the hearing we have.

Chris Martin, will.i.am, and The Who’s Pete Townshend are just some of the many musicians suffering from hearing damage after years of exposure to loud music.

But you don’t have to be a Rockstar to lose your hearing – people of all ages are vulnerable and audiologists say it’s important to understand the causes.

"Hearing isn’t damaged just by high-level sound, it’s damaged by high-level sound over a period of time," Brian Fligor, audiologist said.

Like some things, we do over and over throughout our lives. For example – just 15 minutes at one football game in a stadium may cause hearing damage. And just 5 minutes from a very loud TV or from music turned all the way up on your iPhone with standard earbuds on. So if you attend games and concerts often, or crank up your iPhone volume daily – your risk for hearing loss increases.

Consumer Reports says one trick is to minimize the intensity of noises around you – use noise-canceling headphones that shut out background clamor so you can keep volume at a low level. If you operate a lawnmower or power tools regularly – wear earmuffs or earplugs like these that reduce noise back down to normal conversation level.

"If I have to speak really, really loudly to be heard by someone next to me – you have to use hearing protection," Fligor said.

And did you know many TVs have an automatic turn-down function during commercials and loud, action-packed sequences? Typically found in the "assistive features" in your TV sound settings they may be called "auto volume" or "dynamic range protection."

If you think you may have hearing loss, consider getting tested. The earlier you get hearing help, the better.