Listen to This

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Joanna Schumacher writes, Everyday right after school, I pull out my iPod, and blast my favorite tune.

Everyday right after school, I pull out my iPod, and blast my favorite tune. Sometimes, I might get together with friends to go four wheeling. Then there’s the occasional concert event, I just have to go to. Whether its music, your favorite activity, or just hanging out with friends, it’s amazing to think about how much noise you hear during your day. It’s also scary to think, how much of it could be damaging your hearing. You might not be conscious about the noises around you, but that doesn’t stop your ears from hearing it. Most people though, don’t realize that some of these noises could be damaging to your hearing. I wasn’t aware of it at all, until I went to the DiscovEARy Zone at AudiologyNOW, at the Convention center. There, I learned all about hearing and how it works. One main thing I learned, was the fact that each hair cell in your ear has stereocilia which sends signals to the brain. The stereocilia rocks back and forth, and if the sound’s too loud, the stereocilia can break, causing the hair cell to die. The even scarier thing is that once it dies, it can’t send signals to the brain and never grows back.Anything 85 dB or stronger can cause hearing damage. This includes, guns, fireworks, race cars and loud machines. However, it also includes, digital devices such as iPods, with the volume turned up to a certain level. Scary to think that some things, people use everyday, could be damaging. “The main thing is to just be aware of how high you have the volume,” says Cory Portnuff who’s educated in speech, language, and hearing sciences. There are simple steps to help protect your ears. You can, use ear plugs, turn down the volume, or walk away, when your ears are being exposed to loud sounds. For example, just turning your iPod or Mp3’s volume down to 60% allows you to listen to it for as long as you want, without it damaging your hearing. Along with not protecting your hearing as much as you should, a lot of people also might forget what a gift, hearing really is. It’s something some of us are born with and don’t really think about. But what if you didn’t have your hearing? This is an issue that the Starkey Hearing Foundation strives to help in the world. This foundation is the oldest and largest hearing foundation in the world, going on 150 missions a year. They help people of all ages, all around the world who have hearing problems, by providing hearing aids and help, to those who can’t afford it. “People need to know, there is help, we do care, and we want to be there so there is help,” said Bill Austin, founder of the Starkey Hearing Foundation. To find out more about the foundation and ways that you can help, visit their website at: www.sotheworldmayhear.org May, which is better hearing month, is coming up. So why not protect your gift of hearing a little better? Maybe also look into helping those less fortunate. There’s a lot of noises in the world to hear, and nobody should miss out on them.