Repeated exposure to loud noise and even a one-time exposure to loud noise can damage the delicate, sound-sensitive hair cells in your inner ear. This type of hearing loss is irreversible but preventable. To protect your hearing:
� Lower the volume on your TV and stereo
Choose personal stereos with an automatic volume limiter.
� Turn down the volume on headphones
By directing sound into your ear, headphones can produce levels loud enough to damage your hearing. Hold your headset an arm's length away. If you can hear the sound, the volume is probably too high.
� Muffle the sound
Noise can be damaging if you have to raise your voice to be heard by someone an arm's length away. Wear earplugs or earmuffs when you're around noisy tools, equipment or firearms. Use commercially made devices that meet federal standards. Make sure the protectors fit snugly. Don't use cotton earplugs. They're ineffective and can become lodged in your ear canal.
� Have your hearing tested
If you're frequently around loud noise, have your hearing checked annually. A hearing test can detect mild hearing loss before the damage is obvious or disabling.