Protecting Your Hearing
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Our hearing aid counselors and audiologists frequently encounter patients who are suffering from hearing loss as a result of exposure to loud noises. Factory workers, musicians and construction workers are just some of the many individuals who can suffer from work-related hearing loss. There are many different leisure activities that can also cause serious hearing impairments, particularly with prolonged and repeated exposure.
The threshold for hearing damage is around 85 decibels (dB) – which is equivalent to the level of noise that you might encounter on a street with a heavy, continuous flow of traffic – is sufficient to cause irreparable damage to the tiny hair-like cells that dwell within the inner ear. These little hair-like organelles are called stereocilia, and they respond to vibrations from sound; the sterocilia movement is translated into nerve signals that are carried down the auditory nerve and into the brain.
Loud music is the most common cause of hearing loss. Whether it’s at a live concert or on your iPod, music can quite literally be deafening, with levels reaching 110 to 120 decibels. Another common cause of hearing loss is heavy machinery and power tools. Gunshots and explosions can also cause serious hearing damage and even ear drum rupture, with some gunshots exceeding 150 decibels. Explosions are not just loud; they also have a pressure wave that can cause further damage to the ear. Even sporting events can result in dangerous exposure levels.
Fortunately, you can avoid permanent hearing damage by simply turning down the volume or by wearing protective headphones or ear plugs. Our hearing aid counselors and audiologists can help fit you with personalized hearing protection, which is more effective and more comfortable than “generic” ear plugs.
How Can I Tell if My Music or Other Sounds are Too Loud?
Many patients wonder how they can determine the danger zone for loud music and other damaging sounds. The general rule of thumb is this: if someone has to raise their voice in order to be heard over the music or other sound, then it’s too loud.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, long, repeated exposure to loud music and other sounds over 85 dB holds the potential to cause hearing loss.
Notably, OSHA guidelines require employers to provide employees with ear protection if they are consistently exposed to loud noise. If you are regularly exposed to loud noise at work or as the result of a hobby (i.e. a musician or pilot), then it’s best to get your hearing tested to determine if you are suffering from hearing loss. Many do not even realize that they’re exposing themselves to damaging sounds.
If you or a loved one are exposed to loud noise at work or in your leisure activities, contact us at Hearing Aid Counselors & Audiology to learn more about the latest personalized solutions