One of the best cures in medicine is “prevention” and that goes for your hearing as well. The problem with NIHL is that it's permanent; when the tiny hairs (cilia) in the inner ear die they are gone forever so you need to protect them with good practice and by changing your behavior..

Understand the dangers of NIHL

The first step in preventing NIHL is to understand the dangers of acquiring it and to take measures to reduce exposure to loud noises or avoid the damaging sounds altogether. NIHL can lead to problems communicating, learning difficulties, and tinnitus – a continuous low-frequency ringing in the ears. 

You may not realize it but exposure to loud noise in your environment, even at a young age, can lead to problems with your hearing later in life. It's important that you understand your living or working environment and take steps to avoid loud noise exposure even if it seems fine at the time. 

Identify the dangers of NIHL

Loud noise that can damage the inner ear and lead to NIHL is generally noise above the level of 80 decibels. Noise above this level has destroyed the tiny hairs in the inner ear (cilia) which don't grow back. When these hairs are destroyed you will start to experience a reduction in your hearing capacity. 

Noises above the level of 80 decibels include things like gas-powered lawnmowers, snowmobiles, power tools, music concerts, and heavy traffic. It can also include various forms of manufacturing equipment in different industries. The easiest way to test the decibel levels in your environment is with a special app. 

Adapt your behavior to prevent NIHL

If you think you may be exposed to harmful noise temporarily or more permanently, you need to avoid or limit this as much as possible. In the case of recreational activities, you can lower the volume or take part in them less often, but this is more challenging if you work in harmful noise environments. 

If it is more challenging for you to avoid NIHL level noise you can still take measures to prevent damage to the cilia. Noise-cancelling headphones are a good option, or hearing protection devices such as earplugs. Where possible it's a good idea to relocate or alter your working conditions. 

Seek professional evaluations

NIHL doesn't tend to happen overnight unless it is a particularly loud bang that goes off beside your ear. Rather, it occurs over a longer time period which means you have more chance to catch it and take steps to avoid it causing further damage. 

To prevent NIHL you should have your hearing checked regularly by an audiologist. Depending on your age this is a good idea anyway, those over the age of 50 are encouraged to have their hearing checked once a year. But if you suspect your hearing is at risk from NIHL, have it checked once a year as well.