Most types of hearing loss are permanent, so it’s important to prevent hearing loss before it occurs. If you do have damage to your hearing, you can try to stop it getting worse.
How to prevent hearing loss
Loud noise is the most common cause of hearing loss that is preventable. The best way to protect your hearing is to limit your exposure to loud noises. That means both really loud noises as a one-off, and loud noises over your lifetime.
To prevent damage to your hearing:
- keep your music, TV and radio down - you should be able to easily talk to someone 2 metres away
- at a loud event, take frequent breaks and give your hearing 18 hours to recover afterwards
- if you use headphones or earphones, limit them to an hour at a time then take a break
- if you can, use headphones or earphones that block outside noise
- don't listen to music at more than 60% of the maximum volume
- wear earplugs or ear protection equipment, such as ear muffs, in noisy workplaces
- take breaks at clubs or live music events
Workplaces have rules about noise levels, but you need to keep a watch on them too. If you are concerned about your hearing, your doctor can put you in touch with an audiologist, who will test your hearing and suggest ways to limit any further damage.
How loud is too loud?
You’re probably exposing yourself to dangerous noise levels if:
- you need to shout to be heard by a person 1 metre from you
- you’re listening to music through headphones and can’t hear traffic sounds or people talking near you
If you hear ringing in your ears after an event or a day at work, it was too loud. If you have a lot of days like that, you will almost certainly damage your hearing.
Last reviewed: February 2018