Preventing hearing loss 

The ears are fragile structures that can be damaged in many ways, so it's not always possible to prevent hearing loss.

The risk of your hearing being damaged by loud noises depends on how loud the noises are and how long you're exposed to them. Experts agree that continued exposure to noise at or above 85dB (similar to a lawn mower or loud traffic) can, over time, cause hearing loss.

However, by following the advice below it's possible to reduce your risk of noise-induced hearing loss (hearing loss from loud noise):

  • Don't have your television, radio or music on too loud. This is particularly important if you have young children in the house, because their ears are more delicate than an adult’s. If you can't have a comfortable conversation with someone who is two metres (about 6.5ft) away from you, turn the volume down. You shouldn't have dull hearing or ringing in your ears after listening to music.
  • Use headphones that block out more outside noise, rather than turning up the volume. You can buy add-ons for your existing headphones that block out more outside noise, or noise cancelling headphones.
  • Use ear protection equipment such as ear muffs or ear plugs if you work in a noisy environment, such as a pub, nightclub, a garage workshop or on a building site. It's important to insert ear plugs correctly to gain the benefit of wearing them.
  • Use ear-protection equipment at loud concerts and at other events where there are high noise levels, such as motor races.
  • Don't insert objects into your ears or your children’s ears. This includes fingers, cotton buds, cotton wool and tissue.
  • Be aware of the symptoms of common causes of hearing loss, such as ear infections (otitis media) and Ménière's disease
  • Visit your GP if you or your child are experiencing hearing problems.

Read more tips to protect your hearing.

Page last reviewed: 22/04/2015

Next review due: 22/04/2017