Tips to Protecting Your Hearing
According to the Better Hearing Institute, up to one-third of acquired hearing loss is preventable. This is because some types of hearing loss are caused by exposure to loud noises. One such form of hearing loss is called noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).
How common is hearing loss?
Unfortunately, many favorite activities put people at risk for NIHL. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), approximately 15 percent of Americans between the ages of 20-69, roughly 26 million Americans, have hearing loss due to exposure to high decibel sounds at work or during leisure activities. Additionally, as many as 16 percent of teens report some hearing loss that is most likely to be caused by loud noise.
How is noise measured?
To determine whether an activity puts one at risk for developing hearing loss, it is important to understand how noise is measured. Decibels (dB) measure the intensity of sound. The dB scale runs from 0 dB to 180 dB; equivalent to the faintest sounds a human ear can pick up to the noise produced by a rocket during a launch. Experts agree that continuous exposure to sound above 85 dB is dangerous and puts individuals at risk for hearing loss.
From weekend chores to weekend entertainment, many activities put people at risk for developing hearing loss.
What activities can be dangerous to hearing?
Mowing the lawn, using shop tools or running a snow blower or a chainsaw exposes a typical chore-doer to sounds of 90 to 100 dB. More fun activities, including attending rock concerts, riding a snowmobile or motorcycle, listening to an iPod or other MP3 player at maximum volume or shooting guns on a range expose people to sounds of 100-149 dB.
How can you protect your ears?
When engaging in these activities, it’s important to consider the following tips to keep your hearing safe!
- Wear proper protection. Hearing protectors can help reduce one’s exposure to loud noises by 15-30 dB. One form of hearing protection that is readily available at drug stores is the earplug. Earmuffs and headphones are also options for protecting hearing.
- Avoid bursts of extreme noise. Whether you’re at a concert and too close to the speakers or at the gun range, it’s important to remember even short bursts of extremely loud sounds can cause permanent damage to your hearing. Avoid frequenting these activities or make sure to protect your hearing while there.
- Limit constant exposure. Even if you don’t think the sound around you is too loud, long-term and constant exposure to these noises can be detrimental to your hearing. If you’re listening to music, make sure to take a break from them every so often.
Still wondering what you can do to protect your hearing during your favorite activities? Contact an audiologist in your area to find out what options are recommended and available!