UT Dallas experts offer insights on: hearing protection tips for summer, how to practice strong password security, and being mindful to avoid emotional eating.
Tips to Maintain Good Hearing
The National Institutes of Health estimates that approximately 10 million adults under the age of 70 experience hearing loss from exposure to loud noise. Researchers also estimate that as many as 17 percent of teenagers appear to have Noise-induced hearing loss in one or both ears.
Dr. Colleen Le Prell, UT Dallas professor and head of audiology, is concerned about the statistics because she knows that hearing loss caused by loud noise is preventable.
“There are a number of things that people can do to maintain healthy hearing,” Le Prell said. “Once your ears are damaged, the hearing loss won’t go away.”
In support of Better Speech and Hearing Month, Le Prell and UT Dallas’ Callier Center for Communication Disorders offer several tips to protect your hearing this spring and summer:
- Summer music festivals often include concerts with 100-dBA sound levels or higher. The closer you are to the speakers, the higher the sound levels will be. To protect your ears, consider “musician’s earplugs” that will reduce sound levels with less distortion.
- Lawnmowers, leaf blowers and other devices are loud. If you use headphones to listen to music, the sound levels get even higher as you turn up the volume to cover the background noise. Earplugs or earmuffs to reduce the sound levels reaching your ear are the best choice.
- The use of headphones during personal gaming sessions may increase in the summer for kids and teens. Volume-limiting earphones are a great solution. Remember: the louder the sound, the shorter the safe-listening period.
- During summer fireworks, pick a viewing location far away from the blasts. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association recommends 500 feet as the minimum safe distance. When used correctly, earplugs and earmuffs are inexpensive tools that protect the ear by reducing sound levels.
- If sounds are muffled, your ears feel “full,” you notice a ringing in your ears, or you find yourself saying, “huh?” your ears have been injured. Many times these changes will recover, but if you repeat these activities and injuries, the changes can be permanent.
- If you notice changes in your hearing, schedule an appointment with a licensed audiologist. They can screen for early symptoms of noise damage, provide education on safe-listening choices, assess how well your hearing protection fits, fit you for custom hearing protection if appropriate, and monitor potential changes in your hearing over time.
Practice strong password security for World Password Day
Identity theft is one of the world’s fastest growing crimes, but having a strong password can prevent it.
The first Thursday in May has been designated World Password Day, a designation by the Registrar of National Day Calendar to promote best practices for online security.
Dr. Kevin Hamlen, an associate professor of computer science at The University of Texas at Dallas, said poor password habits are common. He recommends using a passphrase, whether you’re protecting your email, bank account or social media.
“Choose a passphrase or partial sentence that has a unique meaning to you, that has a natural mix of spaces, symbols and mixed-case letters, making them harder for hackers to crack,” Hamlen said. “Just make sure it has a personal meaning so you remember it.”
You can also use nonsense phrases, add spaces or change letters to numbers to create something more difficult for a hacker to guess.
Be Mindful to Avoid Emotional Overeating
Emotional eating is tipping the scales the wrong way for millions of people in the U.S. who are feeling overwhelmed by the anxieties of daily life. Stress factors like job layoffs, failed relationships and health problems can prompt people to use food to calm themselves and numb their feelings.
Taylor Tran, a registered dietitian and employee health program manager at The University of Texas at Dallas, says it’s essential to develop coping skills for stressful times that don’t involve using food as an anesthetic.
She recommends the following:
- Nourish your spirit by planning times to relax with family and friends.
- Get moving, but choose activities that you enjoy.
- Practice mindfulness to evaluate and express your feelings.
“Learning to regulate your emotions will help you curb binge-eating episodes and respond in a healthier way,” Tran said.