Your ears and your hearing are more vulnerable than you think. You can damage your ears and your hearing by constantly or consistently exposing yourself to loud noises. Unfortunately, many of us have to work in loud environments. Others may choose to expose themselves to loud noises for fun. For instance, you might see a movie in Imax or you could attend a music concert. Both activities will expose you to loud noises that could potentially damage your hearing. So, what are the signs that you need ear protection? Well, you can ask an audiologist about whether you need these devices, but here are some of the red lights to look out for.

You are hearing a noise that isn’t there

This could be a buzzing, a whirring, a whistling or even a small piece of music playing on repeat in your inner ear. It’s important to be aware that this could be a sign of tinnitus. If it is, other people won’t be able to hear the noise at all. It will exist solely for you and it can be rather annoying. The good news is that this condition known as tinnitus is not life-threatening. It is, however, a sign that you have been around noises loud enough to damage your hearing. If this is the first time you have noticed the noise, it will likely be temporary. If you act now, you can prevent it from returning by using ear protection around loud noises in future. If you don’t the noise will become permanent and may even get louder, severely impacting your lifestyle. Tinnitus can have other causes as well so make sure you speak to an audiologist and get it checked out.

You are constantly exposed to noises over 85 decibels

There are lots of situations where this will be the case. You might work around heavy equipment. If that’s the case your employer should provide you with some form of ear protection. If they don’t they are putting your health and safety at risk.

You might also be a musician, regularly performing on stage. You will notice that almost every musician does wear protection to make sure that their ears are not damaged by the loud noises from a set. Gunshots, an idle bulldozer, and personal music systems can all create noises at levels higher than 85 decibels, risking damage to your hearing.

You have noticed a change in your hearing

This could be as simple as turning the TV up to a louder volume or talking more loudly during conversations. People will typically do this to compensate for the fact that their voice sounds quieter to them. It is a sign that your hearing has been damaged in some way, potentially due to the exposure of loud noises. By taking action, you can prevent further damage. You should speak to an audiologist about this possibility.

You notice a ringing in your ears

A ringing in your ears isn’t always a sign you have tinnitus but rather a quick warning that your ears have been exposed to loud noises. This could have been the night before or a few hours ago and it will usually only last for a few minutes. If you notice this sign you should protect your hearing in future.