Summertime is the traditional season for families in San Francisco and around the country to head out on vacation. While it’s natural to look forward to warmer weather and fun activities, don’t neglect your hearing health care in the process! Summer poses unique threats to your hearing, but by taking precautions you can still enjoy the season.
Summer Hearing Hazards
The biggest threat to your hearing during the summer months is noise. Noise-induced hearing loss affects an estimated one in three people between the ages of 20 and 69, making it one of the most chronic physical conditions. Warmer weather brings more recreational opportunities outdoors, and many of these activities produce high noise levels that can permanently damage your hearing. Motorcycles, jet skis, power boats, and even lawn mowers can all cause hearing impairment if you participate for extended periods of time. Outdoor sporting events attract large crowds, which in turn lead to dangerously high noise levels. Independence Day brings its own unique hazards. Fireworks, with decibel levels ranging between 150-175 decibels, can cause instant hearing damage. Parades, marching bands, and live concerts may bring out your patriotism, but they too can hurt your ears.
Protecting Against Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Fortunately, noise-induced hearing loss is completely preventable. While avoiding hazardous noise levels is always your best bet, it’s not realistic to expect people to remain indoors when the weather is so nice, especially in San Francisco and the Bay Area, where residents look forward to a break from the cool, foggy months. Instead, be sure to wear hearing protection when participating in noisy activities. Custom earplugs made from molds of your ear canals work best; they contour to the unique shape of your anatomy, providing superior comfort and protection. Even a pair of disposable earplugs from the corner drugstore will help keep you safe.
Protection from Water Hazards
During the warm summer months, many people go for a swim in the nearest lake, river, or pool. As cool and refreshing as the water feels when the temperature soars, there are risks involved in this seemingly harmless pastime, as well. Water entering the ear canals can result in a painful infection known as swimmer’s ear; left untreated, this can eventually lead to hearing loss. To prevent swimmer’s ear, avoid bodies of water where bacterial counts are high (look for posted warning signs), wear a pair of swimmer’s plugs to keep water out of your ear canals, dry your ears thoroughly after exposure to water (including bathing), and never insert objects you’re your ears, including Q-tips or safety pins. These can push wax into your ears, causing it to become impacted and leading to infection.
Don’t Forget Your Hearing Aids
If you wear hearing aids, you should take extra precaution to protect them during the warm, humid summer months. Keep them as dry as possible; a hearing aid dehumidifier relies on a desiccant to draw moisture out of your devices and is an excellent investment that can add years to their lifespan.
Contact your San Francisco audiologist today for more tips on safely enjoying the all-too-brief summer months!