Image credit: PexelsImage credit: PexelsConcerned that nearly one billion young people are at risk of losing their hearing, University of Alberta hearing expert Melanie Campbell started a program called Sound Sense that teaches 12-13 year olds to safely use music devices.

According to Campbell, teaching the 12-13 year olds catches this age group at a time when they increase their smartphone use and when they start attending concerts. Teaching good habits at this stage may stave off future noise-induced hearing loss.

Hearing loss caused by prolonged exposure to music or a noisy work environment can be gradual with the first signs being missed background noises (a squeaking door, the ticking of a clock) to affected conversations.

Campbell offers the following tips to prevent trading in your earphones for a hearing aid:

Turn the music down. Whether you are listening to headphones or a radio, make sure the volume isn’t too loud. A good rule of thumb for testing if the volume is too high on earphones: see if you can conduct a normal conversation as your music plays. If you can’t, turn it down.

Walk away. If you are in a setting where the music is too loud or where there is too much noise, distance yourself from the source of the noise. Distancing yourself from the source will decrease the sound intensity.

Wear earplugs. If you expect to be in a noisy situation (concerts, sporting events), wear earplugs. Earplugs may go a long way in protecting the delicate hair cells in the ears that are damaged when exposed to prolonged loud noises. Campbell even recommends wearing earplugs while doing everyday tasks such as vacuuming, mowing the lawn and blow drying hair.