Loud music, busy cities, and longer lives have resulted in a rapid increase in hearing loss around the world. Your hearing is very precious, it is how you enjoy music, talk with friends and family, and it must work well for you to enjoy life. To help with this, we have put together 9 different ways you can keep your hearing in tip-top shape.
1. Make people look you in the eye
* When talking to people, make sure to maintain eye contact. Humans communicate with body language as much as we do with our voices. If you want to truly understand what someone has to say, make sure they look you in the eye when talking.
2. Use hearing protection
* The parts of our ears that we use to hear don’t grow back, and every loud noise causes permanent damage. Overtime, this damage can really add up, but if you use hearing protection when doing loud activities, you can keep hearing well for much longer. Hearing protection is ranked with the acronym NRR or Noise Reduction Ratings. Safe hearing levels are around 85 dB, and each point of NRR corresponds to 1 dB in noise reduction.
3. Control your environment
* Some places are easier to hear in than others. Big, reverberant rooms like churches, theaters, and gyms can be difficult to hear in well. If you want to be able to hear well, it is best to have long conversations in quieter, more intimate settings. It is never easy to understand what people are saying in noisy situations where multiple people are talking at once, so request that your friends and family act with decorum and take turns speaking.
4. Use digital hearing aids
* Modern hearing aids and other hearing assistance devices can make a huge difference in your everyday life. Adaptive microphones, digital signal processing chips, and custom receivers have made hearing aids some of the most advanced audio equipment you can buy today.
5. Learn what words are hard to hear
* In general, people have more difficulty hearing higher frequency sounds than lower frequency ones. Words with strong “f”, “th”, and “s” sounds may be more challenging to hear. Examples include words like trust, feast, this, and chafe. If you aren’t able to hear a word clearly, ask the person you are speaking with to try a different word.
6. Learn to read lips
* Eye contact is important, but lip reading can help you visualize what words people are saying. It can take some time to master this skill, but the payoff can be tremendous. Many people with trouble hearing and understanding will use lip reading with another improved hearing technique to further increase their communication ability.
7. Pay attention to distance
* Sound loses strength dramatically the further you get from the source. Don’t let people shout at you from another room, since by the time their voice gets to you, it will have lost most of its power. If you have to, get in closer with people than usual when trying to hear them speak.
8. Make sure people speak slowly and clearly
* This may come as no surprise, but people that speak too quickly are often difficult to understand. Despite this, many people insist on rattling off what they have to say as fast as possible, often leaving their conversation partner at a loss for words. You can hear more easily when people who speak in a careful, deliberate matter talk, so encourage this behavior in your friends and loved ones.
9. Consult an audiologist
* Many audiologists offer free hearing screenings that provide a full report on how well you can hear specific words. In general audiology professionals are experts on hearing and communication and are more than willing to provide free advice and recommendations. If you don’t know of an audiologist who will test your hearing for free, become a member of ClearValue Hearing, a free nationwide benefits program that works with local audiologists to provide free hearing tests and discounted hearing aids.