• By Vivien Williams

Mayo Clinic Minute: How to protect your hearing

July 1, 2019

As people gear up for the Fourth of July holiday, many stock up on fireworks as part of the celebration. Dr. Colin Driscoll, a Mayo Clinic head and neck surgeon, recommends that everyone protect their ears if they are around the loud pops and booms of firecrackers. He says the noise can damage your hearing. Dr. Driscoll also adds that you should avoid noises that can damage your hearing throughout the year, not just during the July Fourth holiday.

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The world we live in can be loud."There are a lot of common activities we engage in that provide sustained, damaging noise exposure: leaf blowers, lots of power tools, lawn mowers," says Dr. Driscoll.

He says hair dryers, vacuum cleaners — even pounding a nail — can produce sounds that can damage your hearing. 

"There are OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) guidelines for occupational safety and health guidelines that start to kick in at 85 decibels," says Dr. Driscoll.

Sudden loud noises or sustained loud noises can damage the tiny hairs in your inner ear that are essential to hearing. 

"They don't regenerate. So you want to hang on to every little hair cell in the inner ear you can," says Dr. Driscoll.

Dr. Driscoll says wear earplugs or noise-canceling headphones. And he adds that you should never double the damage by wearing headphones to listen to music and turning up the music so you can hear it over the lawn mower.

Be nice to your ears. They're the only ones you have.

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