Dec 14, 2011

Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss.
Hearing loss and the misunderstanding that comes from it often serve as joke material. But hearing problems are responsible for a lot of anger and depression. Just think: you can't hear what people are saying to you, or you misunderstand them, so they speak louder to you, and you feel as though you're being insulted, or scolded, then accuse the other people of being rude. Complicated, eh? Plus, imagine the consequences of not being able to hear your alarm clock, the warning signal of railway crossing, or the ringing of your cooking timer. Disastrous, aren't they?

Contrary to myth, hearing loss is not only the problems of the aged. The majority of people with hearing impairment belong to the productive age group. That's because a lot of people nowadays are exposed to dangerous levels of noise. Live, open-air rock concerts with their gigantic speakers are not the only source of sonic blasts. Our ears are constantly battered by video arcades; firecrackers, household appliances like food processors and hair dryers, vehicles like rumbling trucks and motorcycles, not to mention the music blaring from our earphones. So how do these noise explosions affect our windows to the voices of the world, and how can we prevent hearing loss? Read on.

How We Hear
Sound travels through the air in waves. The outer part of our ear collects and focuses these waves and channels them to the ear canal. At the end of the canal is the thin tympanic membrane, which vibrates when the sound waves hit it. The vibration is then transmitted through the small bones in the ear, until it reaches a tiny snail-like organ called the cochlea. The cochlea contains fluid that will ripple in response to the vibration tranmitted by the bones. The movement of the fluid stirs the tiny hairs inside the cochlea and in turn, the swaying of the tiny hairs triggers the launching of chemicals to the brain, which then interprets the sound.

Noise Damage
Although many things can damage your hearing, noise is still the number one offender. Very loud sound especially at close range and for a long duration, destroy the tiny hairs inside the cochlea. The hairs closer to the outside of the cochlea, the more sensitive ones, will be the first to get damaged, so the first sign that you're having trouble hearing is that you have difficulty catching high-pitched sounds like the voices of children and women.

Many people don't realize that their hearing is dam-aged because the problem usually develops gradually But you will know that the noise level around you is dangerous if:
• you can't hear someone a meter away.
• you have pain in your ears after leaving a noisy area
• you hear ringing or buzing (tinnitus) in your ears immediately after expsure to noise.
• You suddenly have difficulty understanding speech after exposure to noise; you can hear people talking but you cannot understand them.

So what can we do to keep our sound radar shipshape?
• Limit exposure time to noisy activities.
• At home, turn down the volume on the television, (radio, stereo, or walkman.)
• Wear ear plugs or muffs when working with loud machineries like motorcycles, etc.
• Buy quieter products (compare dB (decibel) ratings on the packaging- the smaller the better).
• Reduce the number of noisy appliances running at the same time at home or in your work place.
Now that you know how delicate your hearing is and how dangerous loud noise can be, go easy on the volume button on your discman, will you?

SOUND – O - METER
140 decibels (gunshot, jet engine at take-off) : Immediate damage to hearing
125 decibels (firecrackers) : Pain threshold
120 decibels (rock-concerts) : Risk of hearing damage in 7 minutes
115 decibels (baby’s cry, jet' skis) : Risk of hearing damage in 15 minutes
105 decibels (jackhammer, helicopters) : Risk of hearing damage in hour
100 decibels (chainsaw, stereo headphones) : Risk of hearing damage in 2 hour
95 decibels (motorcycles) : Risk of hearing damage in 4 hours
90 decibels (lawn mower, truck traffic) : Risk hearing damage in 8 hours
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