The findings made me think that, like me, the lifestyle and occupation of many baby boomers may have affected our hearing more than we will admit. Our recent report on hearing loss found that the problem is common and growing. Take our quiz to see how your hearing really stacks up.
This week's study also highlights the need for some precautionary measures:
1. Turn it down: Discipline yourself to play music at a lower volume. Keep your MP3 player well below maximum volume and limit listening time to 90 minutes per day. Use your MP3 player's volume limiter if it has one.
2. Schedule quiet times: Hearing loss is cumulative, so make sure to offset noisy periods with quieter ones.
3. Use hearing protection: Foam earplugs can reduce your noise exposure by about 20 decibels, but only if you insert them properly. Here's how: Roll the earplug gently between your fingers to make it long and thin, then reach over your head to lift your ear with one hand while inserting the earplug with the other. Hold each earplug in place until it expands. Or you can use over-the-ear earmuffs, which are easier to put on and take off but can be hotter and bulkier.
4. Use the right headphones: Our recent tests have shown that noise-canceling over-the-ear headphones and insert-type rubber-tipped earbuds, properly sized to fit your ear canals, can be good at blocking background noises that lead to higher listening volumes. Just avoid using them in places where you need to stay alert, such as city streets and airports.