Hearing is one of those things that once it’s gone, it’s gone. Although we are lucky that we now have a range of hearing aids, that help people with hearing loss. We also live in a society that speaking sign language and learning sign language is much more accessible. 
There are, however, several things that you can do to prevent noise-induced hearing loss.
It is worth knowing that as you age, most likely, your hearing will decline somewhat; however, all these tips will help.

What is a noise-induced hearing loss?

What we know as a noise-induced hearing loss is caused by damage to the small structures in your ear. These small structures are called hair cells, and they are on the inner ear. These hair cells are what converts noise and sound and turn into potentials – those potentials travel down the auditory pathways to your brain. 
Hair cells that have been damaged due to noise exposure will not grow back. And this will lead to what we know as sensorineural hearing loss. Also known as noise-induced hearing loss.

What volumes of sound can damage your hearing?

Noise-induced hearing loss can be caused by a single exposure to an intense impulse sound. These are things like an explosion or continuous exposure to a loud sound over an extended period like a noisy generator or some machinery.
There are also a number of recreational activities that can put you at risk for noise-induced hearing loss. Shooting and hunting, listening to MP3 players a high volume, loud headphones, being in a band and not wearing the correct ear protectors, going to live music venues and even leaf blowers, lawnmowers and snowmobile riding.
We measure sound in something called decibels (dB). Sounds at or below 70dB, even after prolonged exposure, are unlikely to cause hearing loss. Prolonged or repeated exposure to sales at or above 85dB can cause hearing loss.
The louder the sound, the shorter the amount of time it takes to cause irreversible noise-induced hearing loss.
Here are some of the measurements in dB of a regular noise:

  • In a normal conversation, the noise range will be between 60 to 70dB
  • Motorcycles and dirt bikes sit between 80 and 110dB
  • Sirens like there was an ambulance or a police car sit between 110 and 129dB
  • Music through headphones on a maximum volume, concert and sporting events sits between 94 and 110dB
  • A movie theatre sit between 74 and 104dB
  • Firework shows are between 140 and 160dB. 

The further away you are from a source of the sound, the better, but it also depends on the length of time you are exposed too. It’s a good idea to avoid noises that are too loud, and to close that last too long.

What are the signs of noise-induced hearing loss?

If you are exposed to loud noise over a long time, you might slowly lose your hearing. But because the damage from noise exposure is usually gradual, you’re not likely to notice for quite some time. Many people ignore the signs of hearing loss until they become more pronounced. 
Over time, people generally noticed that some sounds become full or distorted. They might find it difficult to understand other people when they are talking or they may need to turn the volume up on the television. Damage from noise-induced hearing loss and aging can lead to hearing loss, and will most likely need hearing aids to magnify the sounds around you.
Loud noise exposure over some time can also cause tinnitus; this is ringing, a buzzing or roaring in the ears or head. While this can subside over time it may continue, and sometimes it can be constant throughout a person’s life. Hearing loss and tinnitus occur in both ears.

Preventing noise-induced hearing loss

Is induced hearing loss is only one type of hearing off. However, it is one that is entirely preventable. Once you understand the hazards of noise, you can practice good hearing health. It’s important to know which noises can cause damage by looking at the decibels. 
Wear earplugs and protective devices when you are around a loud activity; they are available at hardware and sporting goods stores – alternatively speak to your audiologist. If you aren’t able to reduce the noise or protect yourself from it, move away from the source. It’s essential to protect the ears of children who are too young to protect themselves.
Learn more about Clifton Springs Hearing Center and how we can help you protect your hearing by calling us today at 315-496-4314.