Each March, college students from around the country spend their Spring Break heading somewhere warm. While it’s a time to have fun and leave the classes, books, and homework behind, it can also present some dangers to your hearing health. If you’ll be traveling for Spring Break, here are some tips to keep in mind:
Listen to music at safe volumes
Risks to your hearing can occur before you even get to your destination—for example, while simply listening to music on the plane. If you use earbuds or headphones, it may be tempting to raise the volume to drown out in-flight noises coming from the jet engines or crying babies. However, listening to music at excessive volumes is one of the biggest causes of hearing loss in young people, and the main reason the World Health Organization predicts 1.1 billion people are at risk of losing their hearing.
Go easy on the drinks
While moderation is always a good idea when it comes to alcohol consumption, the risk to your hearing is yet another reason. Excessive alcohol consumption can damage the tiny hair cells (stereocilia) in your inner ear responsible for transmitting sound to the brain. Consuming alcohol in loud environments (a common mix during Spring Break) can lead to “cocktail deafness.” Though temporary, if cocktail deafness happens frequently, it may result in permanent hearing loss.
Get some sleep
With all that’s going on, sleep may be low on your list of priorities. However, a good night’s rest is essential to your physical health, mental wellbeing, and even your hearing. Poor sleep habits cause mental exhaustion and diminish the brain functions responsible for hearing, such as your central auditory processing ability. At the same time, even just two nights of poor sleep can reduce blood vessel function and damage your inner ear. So, make sure to get a good night’s sleep or a least fit a nap in during the day.
Use hearing protection
While on your trip, you’ll probably find yourself in several loud situations—concerts or loud bars and clubs. Such environments can expose you to damaging sound volume. Anything over 85 decibels is considered unsafe, and these environments can easily exceed that threshold. Hearing protection, like earplugs, can help save your hearing, without spoiling the fun. Just remember to follow the instructions to make sure you insert earplugs into your ears properly.
While Spring Break is one of the most exciting times of your life, it’s important to think about how certain decisions you make during your trip can impact your future health and wellness, including your hearing. Follow the advice here, and you can have all the fun you want, while protecting your hearing.