When we consider hearing loss, we most often think of the age-related hearing loss that is part of the natural aging process. But there are external factors that can negatively impact our ability to hear, too. As the world around us gets increasingly louder, it is up to us to monitor the sound environments are ears live in. And it goes beyond us, too. The younger generation that is constantly plugged into listening devices by way of earbuds need good, careful behavior modeled for them.
The dangerous sounds we subject our ears to are found in both daily activities and special events. One of the most common places a person is faced with noise induced hearing loss can be in the workplace. Knowing more about noise induced hearing loss and dangerous sounds can protect and preserve your healthy hearing for years to come.
Noise induced hearing loss
Hearing loss can occur whenever someone is exposed to dangerously loud sounds. This type of hearing loss is referred to as noise induced hearing loss. Based upon a 2010 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is assumed that somewhere between 10 and 40 million adults under age 70 in the United States show signs of hearing loss due to exposure to loud noise. It can happen in one traumatic incident, like an explosion or accident. Noise induced hearing loss can also occur gradually when someone is repeatedly exposed to too loud sounds for a long period of time.
Effects of noise induced hearing loss
Unfortunately, noise induced hearing loss is irreversible. After enough exposure to too loud sounds, the ability to hear high frequency sounds is diminished. Soon, voices in conversation will seem distorted or muffled. As conversation and verbal interaction become more challenging, people with hearing loss may begin to avoid socialization. This can damage relationships with our loved ones and might lead to feelings of loneliness, isolation and depression.
Dangerous sounds in our own backyard
We classify sounds that register over 85 decibels as too loud. At this level, they can damage the sensitive and fragile cells of the inner ear, so important to our hearing because they collect the sound information that is then transmitted to our brains. The human ear was designed for a much less volume than we treat it to these days. It might surprise you to see how many everyday sounds are actually considered dangerous:
Hairdryer – 80 to 100+ decibels
Lawnmower – 90+ decibels
Power Tools – 100+ decibels
Motorbikes and Motorcycles – 80-100 decibels
Ambulance Siren – 110-120 decibels
Noisy Restaurant – 80+ decibels
That’s not to say that you should never blow-dry your hair again or refuse to mow your lawn! It just means that precautions to protect hearing should also be taken.
Special events that sound the alarm
There are also a number of special events we might consider perfectly harmless that actually carry with them some degree of dangerous noise. The average rock concert checks in at about 120 decibels. A fireworks display is around 150-175 decibels. And that season ticket seat in the bleachers? It could potentially harm your hearing, too. The Kansas City Chiefs hold the record of loudest outdoor stadium by virtue of their 142.2 decibel reading.
How can you tell if hearing has been harmed?
There are three commonly asked questions when determining whether the sounds you’ve experienced are dangerously loud:
Do your ears ring during or after the event?
Must you shout in order to talk to a companion within an arm’s length?
Have you experienced temporary hearing loss after leaving the event?
If the answer to any of the above questions is yes, then you’ve been in a situation that risked your hearing health.
Use sound protection always
Don’t let the noise of a hobby, chore or beloved activity make you steer clear. Instead, be mindful of how long your exposure lasts, what your ears feel like and take the time to give your ears a break if you feel any hint of pain or deafness in the area. You could also consider investing in some protection. Earmuffs or noise reducing headphones are a great way to add a layer in between your ears and the too loud sounds. Another option is custom made ear plugs. These are great to have for any sort of too loud scenario in your future and they can seriously reduce the sound levels that affect your hearing. They might also make a great gift for the season ticket holder sports fan in your life.
Visit Us at Hearing Health
Are you concerned about your hearing abilities? Contact our team at Hearing Health in Portland. We provide comprehensive hearing tests and hearing aid fittings.