Twelve days of happy hearing this festive season
Hearing Australia’s tips for enjoying the holidays
On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love sent to me, 12 drummers drumming….
Good hearing is the key to enjoying all the wonderful sounds this Christmas - your favourite carols, the sound of delighted children opening their presents, and contented chatter from loved ones around the dinner table. But an expert from Hearing Australia is urging Aussies not to take their hearing for granted and to protect it this holiday time.
“Over a third of adult hearing loss, 37 per cent, is preventable, 1 so it’s important to know how to take care of your hearing,” said Catherine Hart, Principal Audiologist at Hearing Australia. “This includes making sure you protect yourself from exposure to loud sounds, which is the most significant cause of preventable hearing loss in the Australian population.”2
So in the spirit of the festive season, here are Hearing Australia’s 12 tips for 12 days of happy hearing:
Celebrate with safe sound levels: When you’re enjoying those festive season parties or joining in the celebrations with friends and colleagues, make sure you’re not exposed to excessively loud noise. Take regular breaks outside and position yourself at a distance from the speakers. The intensity or strength of a sound is measured in decibels (dB), and the level at which the risk of permanent hearing loss begins is around 85 dB3 - sound levels at many entertainment venues may exceed this.4
Be hearing smart at concerts: Research from Hearing Australia shows that 40 per cent of people are unaware that loud music can be related to hearing issues5, so take care when you’re hitting the holiday concert scene. When you’re at an event, be aware of where the speakers are and pack your earplugs in case you need them. Remember, the higher the level of sound and the longer the exposure, the more likely that hearing damage will occur.6
Keep volumes at safe levels on portable music devices: Personal music players and smartphones make great gifts, but make sure you don’t bump the sound up to dangerous levels. Listening to your device at high volume through earbuds or headphones is a known risk factor for hearing loss.7
Adjust the volume for kids: Young children love toys that generate sounds (especially if they’re accompanied by flashing lights). They normally come with an adjustable volume control so you can keep it on a lower setting. You’ll also appreciate the peace and quiet!
Protect your ears when doing chores: The holiday season is a great time to get ahead on some household chores and DIY but if you’re using power tools, leaf blowers or lawnmowers, be sure to wear earmuffs.
Keep the tone down while toning up: With all the extra food we usually eat at Christmas, we often find ourselves feeling the need to exercise more too. While music is a great motivator for exercise, make sure you listen at a comfortable sound level. Pump up the tempo, not the volume.
Healthy eating for healthy hearing: If you have overindulged during the Christmas period, you might be thinking about getting back on track with your healthy eating plan for your overall physical and mental wellbeing. But did you know that eating certain foods may be good for your hearing? Greens are good!9
Do your research: Plenty of people will be asking Santa for headphones this year, especially the frequent flyers amongst us. But not all headphones are created equal. Make sure you do your research and choose high-quality noise-cancelling headphones where possible.
Keep ears clean and clear: If you’re lucky, you can spend a bit more time than normal in the water over the festive period. Don’t forget to look after your ears when you swim - you might find earplugs helpful for keeping water out. It’s always good to swim in clean water.
Ask for help: If you are experiencing hearing loss, ensure you get help at Christmas family gatherings. Make sure any hearing device you use is working properly, seat yourself in a central position and away from noise, so you can see everyone and hear who is talking. And there’s no need to be shy when it comes to telling people if you can’t hear so you don’t miss out on any of the fun.10
Plan your trip: Planning a trip for the holidays is exciting, and if you do use a hearing device, with some extra preparation, you can be kicking back in no time. Make sure you bring extra batteries and maintenance equipment. It’s also a good idea to check out where the nearest hearing aid clinics may be at your holiday destination.8
Make a New Year’s resolution to take good care of your hearing: Ensure you get regular checks with a hearing care professional as your gift of sound to yourself. And don’t forget to help the people close to you celebrate the joy of sound in 2019 and encourage them to take good care of their hearing health too. Hearing Australia research reveals that overall, 50 per cent of Australians have a loved one or family member who has been affected by hearing issues.5
“There’s no need for people to struggle with hearing difficulties,” says Catherine. “Expert care combined with the latest hearing technology to suit your budget and lifestyle, can help you can stay in touch with your family, friends and colleagues.”
“Better hearing can also help you to continue with your hobbies and enjoy activities like socialising at a café, sports game or when you travel. If you have noticed a change in your hearing, seek help as soon as possible so you get the support you need to rediscover the joy of sound.”
1. The Social and Economic Cost of Hearing Loss in Australia. Hearing Care Industry Association (HCIA) June 2017.
2. Australian Hearing (2013), Causes of hearing loss in Australia, updated December 2013
3. Safe Work Australia – Work Health and Safety Regulations – September 2015
4. National Acoustic Laboratories https://noisedb.nal.gov.au/
5. Australian Hearing (2017), Hearing Loss Issues – survey commissioned by Australian Hearing. Conducted on the Galaxy Online Omnibus between 20 and 23 April, 2017, national sample of 1000 Australians aged 18 years and older. Data has been weighted by age, gender and region to reflect the latest ABS population estimates.
6. National Acoustic Laboratories, Know Your Noise website https://knowyournoise.nal.gov.au
7. Tung CY, Chao KP (2013), Effect of recreational noise exposure on hearing impairment among teenage students, Research in Developmental Disabilities, Jan;34(1):126-132.
8. Australian Hearing website https://hearing.com.au/About-hearing/Hearing-in-adults/Selfcare-resources/Stress-free-tips-to-manage-hearing-loss-on-holiday
9. Australian Hearing Hearing Help website https://www.hearinghelp.com.au/info-and-tips/Eat-your-way-to-healthy-hearing/
10. Australian Hearing Hearing Help website https://www.hearinghelp.com.au/info-and-tips/How-to-enjoy-the-festive-season-with-hearing-loss/