Summer weather is here and there may be more opportunities for you and your family to spend more time around loud noises. Some common exposure to noise may be from lawn equipment, concerts, sporting events, fireworks, and listening to loud music through personal headphones.
Noise-induced hearing loss can be caused by sudden loud sounds such as the bang of a gun, or by extended exposure to any loud noise over 85dB, such as from a loud band (dB stands for decibel, which is a unit of measurement for the loudness level of sound).
A list of common noise levels
- 60 dB—Normal conversations or dishwashers
- 80 dB—Alarm clocks
- 90 dB—Hair dryers, blenders, and lawnmowers
- 100 dB—MP3 players at full volume
- 110 dB—Concerts (any music genre), car racing, and sporting events
- 120 dB—Jet planes at take off
- 130 dB—Ambulances and fire engine sirens
- 140 dB—Gun shots, fireworks, and custom car stereos at full volume
(Source: American Academy of Audiology)
Noise-induced hearing loss is permanent.
Noise damages to the sensory part of our inner ear. This sensory component is needed to help send sound signals to the hearing nerve and ultimately the brain.
Here is a list of tips to help protect your hearing:
1. Limit noise exposure.
Be conscious of the time you’re spending around loud noise.
2. Distance yourself from the noise source.
3. Wear hearing protection.
Consider custom hearing protection, which you can get through an audiologist. Hearing protection can be something that is worn in the ears or over the ears. They even make headphones just for babies to protect their hearing!
4. Turn it down.
Most volume controls can be turned up much louder than what is considered a safe listening level. Use the 50% percent rule. Set the volume so that it only goes up to the halfway point on a volume wheel. For little ones and teenagers, you may want to use a marker to indicate the half-way point for them. This is important for better awareness and to reduce significant exposure.
People of all ages must take precautions around loud noise, including children.
Help raise awareness and educate your children about safe listening levels because starting safe practices early in life will put them on the road towards good hearing in adulthood.
The following national programs aim to raise awareness of noise induced hearing loss:
For additional information about noise induced hearing loss please visit the following educational resources:
Julie Stefanski, Au.D., F-AAA, is an audiologist at the University of Vermont Medical Center.