Life is loud. Spending just an hour cutting your lawn without wearing hearing protection can cause irreversible damage to your hearing. But whether you’re cheering on your favorite sports teams, flying on an airplane, or getting your teeth cleaned at your dentist’s office, remember that you could be exposing your ears to unsafe noise levels.
The good news is that noise-induced hearing loss is preventable. You can avoid damaging your hearing by establishing safe listening levels, understanding how much exposure is safe and by wearing hearing protection.
Listen Carefully recommends following three easy steps to prevent noise induced hearing loss:
(1) Distance yourself from loud sounds
(2) Lower the volume
(3) Protect your ears
So, just how loud is too loud?
Understanding what noise levels are safe and how long you can be exposed to those levels before damage occurs can be confusing. Professionals use a complex formula to calculate risk, but in simpler terms, the chance of hearing loss greatly increases as the sound level and duration of exposure increase.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prolonged exposure to sounds 85dB and above can be hazardous to your hearing.
Our musical devices and headphones
Unfortunately in today’s world, it is our headphones and personal listening devices that pose the most damage. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that as many as one in five teens in the United States have a hearing loss, which is a 30 percent increase over the last decade. More than 20 percent of teens have measurable hearing loss as a result of noise exposure, and experts believe one in six teens may have permanent hearing loss due to loud sounds.
Personal audio devices bring sound into the ear canal and closer to the eardrum, increasing sound intensity and subsequently the risk of permanent damage. To ensure safe listening levels for personal audio devices, keep volume at or below half of the maximum output. Keep in mind that electronic manufacturers are not required to designate safe listening levels on electronics, therefore parents are encouraged to listen through their children’s headphones to make sure the levels of loudness are comfortable and safe.
The importance of protection:
Healthy listening levels should be established while using personal listening devices, especially for children, and hearing protection should be utilized when attending concerts or other loud events.
Hearing protection is especially important when it comes to occupational and recreational noises such as a construction site, a factory or when out hunting or shooting. Using hearing protection can reduce your risk of noise exposure and can be worn during everyday activities such as riding a motorcycle, mowing the yard or attending a concert.
There are a number of protective options including custom-fit earplugs, SoundGear digital hearing protection or simply foam earplugs you can keep in your car or purse. For those involved heavily with music, consider Tunz, custom headphones and stage monitors.
Custom-fit earplugs: Uniquely designed to preserve sound quality while providing noise protection to ensure healthy listening levels.
Tunz: Designed with musicians in mind, Tunz are custom-fit, filtered hearing protective devices designed to attenuate equally across all frequencies preserving sound quality. The filters for custom musician hearing protection can be changed by the musician to achieve different levels of attenuation (9, 15, or 25dB).
SoundGear: Designed with hunters and shooters in mind, these digital hearing protective devices are designed to enhance environmental awareness while suppressing dangerous sound levels. SoundGear is available in instant-fit, custom and behind-the-ear options for hunters, shooters, industrial and tactical environments.
Excessive noise exposure can lead to permanent hearing loss. If you are concerned about noise exposure or have hearing concerns, contact your professional today.
- Shargorodsky, J., Curhan, S. G., Curhan, G. C., & Eavey, R. (2010). Change in Prevalence of Hearing Loss in US Adolescents. Journal of the American Medical Association, 304 (7), 772-778