The apparatus of our hearing is extremely delicate. The stereocilia (tiny hairs in our ears) that are instrumental to our hearing can be prone to damage from the noises we encounter on a daily basis. Those of us with noisy jobs who work in construction or live music or handle firearms regularly are typically well trained on the virtues of adequate ear protection, but this does not mean that they always use it. Likewise, those with potentially noisy hobbies like amateur carpenters, motorsports enthusiasts, live music lovers or those who like to let off steam at the gun range should all understand the importance of ear protection. Yet, for many of us, ear protection is seen as an optional extra rather than a vital way of maintaining the health of our ears. Ask any hearing health care provider and they’ll tell you that there are some seriously good reasons why everyone should protect their ears in noisy environments.

Unlike other types of hair, stereocilia don’t grow back

We refer to stereocilia as hairs, but they are fundamentally different from the rest of the hairs in our body. When we damage the hair on our head through excessive heat or exposure to chemicals, while it may be an inconvenience to us, at least we know that it will grow back. Stereocilia, however, do not grow back. Loud noise does damage to the cells and membranes in the cochlea (inner ear) and places excessive stress on these tiny cilia. When this happens, they get overworked and die. And when they die, they can never, ever be regenerated. Thus, if you are exposed to loud noise on a regular basis the damage to your hearing is likely to be permanent unless you take steps to protect your ears.

You can’t always preempt loud noise

Some may think of ear protection as unnecessary in their working environment, assuming that if there’s a loud noise they’ll see it coming and apply ear protection on an ‘as and when’ basis. The trouble is that you can’t always preempt loud noise or see the source of it coming (especially in the workplace). It’s far better to be on the safe side and use ear protection at all times.

It protects you from tinnitus

If you’ve ever been exposed to a loud, noisy environment, you’re likely familiar with tinnitus. This annoying ringing can haunt your ears for hours after exposure to loud noise. It can seem deafeningly loud in a quiet room and provide an ever-present distraction. It can even cause you to lose sleep. Yet tinnitus is always a symptom rather than a problem in and of itself. By protecting your ears from damage, you eliminate the chances of encountering this symptom.

It can protect you from a perforated eardrum

A sudden and unexpected loud noise can cause serious trauma to your ear in the form of a permanent eardrum. This can result in permanent hearing loss and make your ears extremely vulnerable to a range of infections. Fortunately, wearing the right ear protection at all times greatly reduces this risk.

It sets a good example

Wearing ear protection also enables you to protect the hearing of others. If less experienced employees or hobbyists see you using appropriate ear protection they’ll be far less likely to neglect their own.