But modern technology includes hearing aids worn while swimming
By Dan Garcia
The ever-present noise pollution that is part of the grind of daily life is more than just a nuisance.
It can lead to hearing loss.
Just ask Carey Bowen, who deals with hearing issues every day.
Mr. Bowen, a licensed hearing aid specialist for Miracle-Ear, laid out a litany of reasons why people suffer hearing problems.
Mr. Bowen said some levels of noise pollution are actually categorized as "painful and dangerous."
Activities such as setting off fireworks, firing a gun or playing your custom car stereo at top volume create up to 140 decibels of noise, and should be undertaken only with hearing protection, Mr. Bowen said.
Jackhammers and ambulance sirens can reach 130 decibels, and jet planes at takeoff reach 120 decibels, which can be a dangerous exposure after 30 seconds.
Other sources of noise which can cause long-term problems are rock concerts, car horns, snowmobiles, MP3 players and attending sporting events.
Lawnmowers, power tools, hair dryers and blenders are other sources of noise that can cause long-term harm.
Noise pollution, not hereditary reasons, is the No. 1 reason for hearing loss, Mr. Bowen said.
People should take precautions in the first place to avoid potential problems, he said.
But for those at the stage where some hearing loss has set in, Mr. Bowen said Miracle-Ear has made some remarkable advances.
People who have struggled with balky and troublesome hearing aids would be surprised to discover that modern hearing aids have eliminated issues with feedback, and are able to separate individual sounds based on different decibel levels, Mr. Bowen said.
One major advancement is what Mr. Bowen called "the world's first waterproof, shockproof, dustproof, digital, behind-the-ear hearing aid."
Previously, hearing aids had to be removed before swimming, or during exercise activities that resulted in perspiration, in order not to damage the equipment.
Moisture led most hearing-aid wearers to avoid water sports or perspiration-causing activities, or to go through the inconvenience of removing and re-inserting hearing aids, Mr. Bowen said.
Today, hearing aids can be worn in a shallow pool without a problem.
Watertight housing for battery compartments, using a silicone sealant, eliminates concerns about moisture, perspiration and dust, Mr. Bowen said.
The Aquavi hearing aid, which went on the market in May, can be submerged in water up to 3 feet deep for up to 30 minutes without damaging the instrument, he said.
"The Aquavi allows you not to circumvent your lifestyle," he said.
In addition, thanks to Bluetooth technology, someone watching television can adjust a TV's volume without affecting other people in the same room, Mr. Bowen said.
"If one person wants to hear the TV at a different volume, all the other person with the hearing aid has to do is adjust his hearing aid to a different volume - with the hearing aid still in his ear," Mr. Bowen said.
"An individual can actually use a Bluetooth system on a cell phone to adjust the volume of his hearing aid," he explained.
"That's the technology level that hearing aids have reached today" thanks to programmable computer chip technology, he said.
In the end, caring for one's hearing is a personal responsibility, Mr. Bowen said.
"Protect your hearing, because the only way to replace it is with hearing aids," he said.
To schedule a hearing test, visit Miracle-Ear at Wal-Mart, 1000 N. Wickham Road in Melbourne, or Wa-Mart in Viera, call (321) 259-5995, or visit www.miracle-ear.com.