How to protect your hearing!

Concerts, parties, playlists: life has not only become faster and more stressful, but also louder. Not infrequently, this leads to hearing loss, tinnitus or deafness. Take these steps to protect your hearing in everyday life.

Petra Lindner* was 29 years old when she suffered a hearing loss. She was used to stress in the open-plan office of an agency, but the conversations between colleagues disturbed her work as an editor. That’s why She spent most of her time with headphones on her laptop, because she could only concentrate with loud music. All of a sudden it got quiet- not in Petra’s office, but on her right ear, which now felt like it was packed in absorbent cotton. The same day she went to the ENT doctor. The diagnosis: Hearing loss.

Every year, 150 people like Petra.000 Germans per year. The affected person suffers from a whimpering, feels pressure in the ear or, in the worst case, can no longer hear anything at all. In many cases, the cause is an acute dysfunction of the sensory cells in the ear (hair cells) or other structures of the inner ear, often caused by noise.

How hearing damage occurs?

Click on the buttons to learn what happens in the ear when there is noise.

Sound reaches the cochlea directly through the bones of the skull.

The hair cells transmit the wave impulses they receive to the auditory nerve, which passes them on to the brain stem and other parts of the brain.

These vibrations are transmitted by the eardrum to the hammer, anvil and stirrup, which convert the airborne sound into mechanical energy.

The sound transmitted by the auricle causes the eardrum to vibrate.

This energy is passed on to the cochlea. This is where the sensory cells responsible for processing sound are located: the hair cells.

These vibrations are transmitted by the eardrum to the hammer, anvil and stirrup, which convert the airborne sound into mechanical energy.

Loud sound is picked up by the outer ear, bundled and passed on to the eardrum in the middle ear,

Healthy hair cells stand upright and can therefore process the impulses effectively.

If the hearing is exposed to noise, the hair cells in the inner ear are bent over. This damages the hearing slowly, but steadily and permanently.

Sound and stress

Blast trauma, excessive music listening, disco and concert attendance, and years of working in noisy environments can damage hearing irreparably. If permanent stress is added to this, the consequences are catastrophic: hearing loss, hearing loss and tinnitus.

Then usually too late for treatment. That knows Donja Stempfle, author of the book "Forget Tinnitus: And There Is a Cure After All, in which it describes its successful fight against the noise in the ear.

"I became ill with tinnitus in 2008 and was often under stress at work and in my private life, explains the 50-year-old. "I didn’t take my hearing into account either, and I also had an unhealthy lifestyle." Then the throbbing started. "The symptoms got worse and worse, but I only went to the doctor when nothing worked anymore."

When she was diagnosed with chronic tinnitus, her world collapsed: "I was in a really bad way because no doctor could help me. As a patient, all you hear is that there’s nothing you can do about it." Giving up was not an option for them.

A years-long odyssey from therapy to therapy, from drug to drug began. Nothing has helped. "Finally, I have completely turned my life around, changed my diet, learned to switch off and thus activated my self-healing powers." Today, Donja Stempfle is still a tinnitus patient, but the noise has disappeared.

Prevention is the key

The best protection against hearing disorders is prevention. Because even a low noise level in the range of 70 dB can cause sleep disturbances and permanently impair hearing. 70 dB, which is about the volume of a vacuum cleaner.

That’s why employers are required to provide hearing protection at a daily noise exposure level of 85 dB, which is equivalent to the volume of a major traffic street. But you yourself can also actively protect your hearing nerve to prevent ringing in the ears or hearing loss.

6 tips for better hearing protection in everyday life

Reduce volume

If you listen to music or watch TV, make sure the volume is moderate. Especially with earphones or headphones, it is important that they are not set too loudly.

Breaks for the ears

Give yourself a break after every high noise exposure. When there is constant noise or music that is too loud, the hair cells are compressed and stick together. You can, however, regenerate after a rest period.

Wearing hearing protection

Be sure to wear appropriate hearing protection if you have a job that generates noise or you are exposed to high levels of noise on a daily basis. Especially when visiting concerts, festivals as well as clubs and discos, you should think about sufficient protection. This is provided, for example, by earplugs and ear muffs.

Caution when buying equipment

Electrical appliances usually have a decibel rating. When buying your new vacuum cleaner or refrigerator, make sure that the appliance is as quiet as possible.

Avoid proximity to noise sources

Whether loudspeakers or speakers: if there is a lot of noise somewhere, keep as far away as possible from the source of the noise.

Listen to the body

Loudness together with permanent stress is a downright toxic cocktail for the hearing ability. Therefore, pay attention to the first symptoms related to stress, such as rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure or dizziness.

When the sound stays: Living with tinnitus

Bernd Strohschein is also familiar with the condition with the constant whining: the 64-year-old has suffered from chronic tinnitus for 30 years, and has tried a wide variety of therapies. But in the end he could only help himself. Today he leads the tinnitus self-help of the German Tinnitus League (DTL) in Munich. He tells

"It started insidiously. I did not attach much importance to the sound, on the contrary. At rock concerts, I usually stood right in front of the speakers until my pants flapped. When I was 18, I also earned a little extra money as a DJ.

At the end of the eighties I was diagnosed with tinnitus. Thereupon I went through many different therapies, which are no longer carried out today. At that time, people were still convinced that tinnitus occurs in the ear. But it doesn’t do that there, it does it in the brain.

The possible cause of my tinnitus cannot be determined exactly. But there are three factors that generally favor it: Hearing loss, stress and musculoskeletal complaints. I, too, have tried for decades to combat the noise, tried everything that was touted as a remedy. Today knows I that most of it is just a business.

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