Sound Check

Those openings on the side of your head do more than hold up your glasses; they capture every tone, clang, and whisper that ripples past your hair. So don’t give them the silent treatment. Listen up to these tips for keeping your hearing in sound shape:

  • Forget the swab. Most of us are guilty of digging deep when wax builds up. But that gooey substance actually helps guard the canal against foreign invaders. Sticking cotton tips in your ear can push back the wax and cause infection. And you could puncture your eardrum if you’re not careful.
  • Plug your ears. Experts warn that anything over 85 decibels can start to deafen — that’s about the noise level of a lawnmower or motorcycle. If sounds are louder (100 decibels or more), like those released at a rock concert, by a jet plane, or some power tools, you could start experiencing permanent hearing loss within 15 minutes. Wear protective headphones or earplugs if you’re going to be around noise levels higher than 85 dB, and take 15–minute breaks during your exposure. If you have to raise your voice to be heard, chances are the noise is too loud.
  • Address concerns. If you notice changes in your hearing, or have symptoms like ringing, muffling, pain, a sense of fluid that won’t drain, or dizziness, see a doctor.

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