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Noise induced hearing loss is the most common cause of hearing loss that affects people of all ages. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 22 million Americans are exposed to hazardous noise in the workplace, putting hearing loss at the top of the list as the most common work-related injury.
While wearing hearing protection if you work in a noisy environment can preserve your hearing, there are actually many instances in which our hearing may still be at risk due to excess noise, that we may not even realize.
It is important to understand when your hearing is at risk and to find out what you can do about it now, so you don’t end up with irreversible hearing damage down the road.
Sound is measured in units called decibels and when these decibels reach a low level of danger over a sustained amount of time your ears can start to become damaged. This is why work related hearing injuries are so common.
People become used to a high level of noise day after day and don’t even realize that their hearing has been affected until it is too late. Being able to identify the decibel level in the places you frequent the most, is the first step towards protecting your hearing.
There are apps available for your smartphone that can measure the sound in a space. Any decibel reading in a room louder than 85 can start to cause permanent damage to your hearing overtime. However when sounds reach higher decibels it takes much less time to sustain permanent damage. Decibel levels of 94db are only safe for your ears to be exposed to for 15 minutes while levels of 120 can damage your hearing in a matter of seconds.
Personal Listening Devices
One of the most common causes of noise induced hearing loss comes from our use of headphones. Now with seemingly endless streaming we expose our ears to loud levels of noise for hours and hours. Most headphones emit sounds from 85 to 110 decibels which definitely puts your ears at risk.
It is so important to give your ears a break when listening. A rule of thumb that can help you keep your ears safe is to keep the volume lower than 60% of its potential volume. This goes for sounds not coming through headphones as well, including your television, stereo and radio. If you have to raise your voice to be heard over the sound, then your volume is loud enough to cause permanent damage.
We may not notice the amount of noise in our home. Convenient machines like our vacuum cleaners, blenders, coffee grinders, window air conditioner units and noisy fridges can all contribute to more noise pollution then we may realize.
It is best to limit the amount of appliances running at once as these can raise the decibel level quickly. If an appliance is noisy try placing a noise insulating carpet or pad beneath it to absorb some of the sound and make sure to take breaks if the sound must go on longer than 15 minutes.
If you are a professional carpenter or construction worker then you probably deal with a lot of power tools daily and wear ear protection as the job mandates. However many people use power tools at home as well and don’t always take wearing ear protection as seriously as they should. A home mower, weed whacker or leaf blower can easily rise to 100db. To minimize damage make sure to always wear your ear protection.
Most people know that a loud music concert is a prescription for hearing damage and tinnitus (a ringing in the ears). But what about on the way there or if you choose to stay at home. The streets are full of multiple cars running at once, motorcycles, diesel trucks, construction and more. Highway traffic can easily surpass the 90 dB mark, which can become a serious problem if your commute is longer than 15 minutes. If you live in a noisy environment, it could help to keep your windows shut when possible.
Treating Your Hearing Loss
If you suspect that you have been exposed to excess noise then it’s a good idea to make an appointment to have your hearing checked. Our team can help you find the best solution for your hearing issues to help you get back to hearing in this sound-rich world.