Due to nothing surpassing the importance of maintaining the senses, the World Health Organization took the decision in 2007 to declare the 3rd of March each year as World Ear Care day.
For years, the urge to shed light on the underestimation of the hazards posed by everyday noises on our ears has been growing.
The reason behind this dedication does not stem only from the importance of this particular sense, but also because it is one of the most threatened aspects of our wellbeing on daily bases, thus requiring higher degree of awareness from everybody.
Campaigns around the world are launched and lectures are held at this time of the year to draw attention to the hazards of excessive use of technology which can cause gradual hearing loss- smart phones, loud music, and excessive noise are to blame.
“Noise pollution has become a trending cause leading to hearing loss. It is important to protect ourselves from an early age from recreational noises such as loud speakers, headphones from music players, fireworks and other noise's which induce hearing loss,’’ stated Sameh Farid, General Secretary of Arab FOS - Arab Federation of Otorhinolarynology Societies and former minister of health for Egypt.
Data provided by MED- EL, the Austrian based medical electronics organisation credited with pioneering hearing implants, indicates that hearing impairments are a threat to almost 10 million Egyptians and Arabs in the region, where the hazards of loud noise are highly underestimated.
The data also sheds light on the problem of being exposed to noise for extended period of times due to excessive use of loud gadgets or exposure to them at places of work.
For example, machines and tools such as a circular saw or a jackhammer can easily reach noise levels of up to 100 decibels, making them almost as loud as an airplane taking off. If the noise cannot be avoided, the only solution is to wear decent hearing protection, which is required by law for very loud working environments and must be provided by the employer.
Further emphasis was made also on the exposure to loud noises outside work. It is always recommended, whether it’s an ambulance driving by with loud sirens, a building-site noise on the street or the sound of a car’s horn, to cover the ears.
Frequent club or concerts goers should use earplugs. Modern sound systems can produce 110 decibels or more and our ears are affected by long-term exposure to them.
Dr Ahmed El Ariny, consultant of Otorhinolarynology says that it is recommended that if a person is keen to maintain the strength of their hearing abilities for years to come, they should not be exposed to noise exceeding 105 decibels for more than 15 minutes a week, nor to noise exceeding 80 to 90 decibels four hours per week.
Exceeding that limit can put a tremendous strain on the ear and affect it for life.
To demonstrate what thresholds should not be exceeded, El Ariny gives some examples. "A rock concert usually results in 120 dB, a car horn 110 dB, a loud MP3 player 112 dB, and action movies in theatres 100 decibels,'' he said.
"The golden rules we recommend usually, is to lower the volumes of gadget music to around 60 to 70% of their capacity, use old fashioned sponge padded earphones rather that the newer ones which plug into the ears, and always protect the ears at work in case of obligatory exposure to constant loud noise that cannot be evaded.
"It is also recommended to limit exposure to noise in closed areas like cars and increase the time span that you dedicate to staying in calm, serene places. It is a personal lifestyle decision one must not neglect, as the hearing capability must never be taken for granted," he says.