Shield Your Healthy Hearing From Harmful Noise Levels
Exposure to excessive noise during work or leisure activities can significantly increase a person’s risk of hearing loss and potentially worsen a preexisting hearing problem. Continuous exposure to 85 decibels (dB), for example — about the level of noise you’d encounter on a street with constant, heavy traffic — can irreversibly damage hair cells in the inner ear that convert sound vibrations into nerve signals that travel to the brain.
Exposure to loud music, either at a concert or via headphones, is particularly dangerous since the sound intensity can sometimes reach 110 to 120 dB. Power tools and heavy machinery can also produce similarly damaging noise levels. The traumatic effect of sudden, very loud sounds, like an explosion or the firing of a gun, poses an even greater risk to your hearing. With shotgun fire exceeding 150 dB, unprotected exposure can lead to instantaneous, permanent damage to your hearing.
The good news is that the damaging noise can usually be avoided by turning down the volume or by wearing quality ear protection. See below for several types of custom-fit hearing protection available at Whittier Hearing Center that are substantially more effective and more comfortable than poorly fitting, generic earplugs.
How Loud Is Too Loud?
As a general rule of thumb, if you have to raise your voice to be heard over the music/noise, it is too loud. According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, long or repeated exposure to noise levels at or above 85 dB can cause hearing loss. Federal regulations also govern allowable noise levels in the workplace, as well as the employer’s role in providing ear protection. More information on this subject can be found at OSHA. In addition to using ear protection, those who are regularly exposed to noise should have their hearing tested to see if the effects of hearing damage are already present.
If you are exposed to continuous noise in your leisure activities or at work, contact us for advice on the latest earplugs and hearing protection methods that will best suit your needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Perhaps the most common loud noise you’ll encounter is freeway traffic, which can be loud enough to damage hearing (85 dB) when it’s heavy. Lawn mowers, chain saws, ambulances, garbage trucks, and motorcycles are all fairly common neighborhood or street sounds that can damage hearing. During certain times of the year, firecrackers, jackhammers, snowmobiles, or outdoor sporting equipment (guns included) might make themselves known. And of course loud music — whether it’s through earbuds and a loud iPod or in person at a concert — is one of the most common culprits of hearing loss today.
Do whatever you can to get away from that noise immediately. When a noise is painful, it’s likely that damage is being done to your hearing. Noises loud enough to cause pain are also typically loud enough to cause permanent hearing damage almost immediately. If the pain persists, please see a medical professional.
Earplugs that fit snugly and seal tightly in your ear canal typically offer protection for a variety of situations. Custom-fit hearing protection offered by Whittier Hearing Center can protect your ears from harmful noise levels while still allowing you to enjoy the activities you love.
Whittier Hearing Center can fit you with custom hearing protection that defends the delicate inner ear against harmful noise levels.
If you must raise your voice in order to be heard over the sound, you’re probably experiencing a dangerous amount of noise. Do what you can to move out of harm’s way, or cover your ears if possible until the noise passes.
Permissible noise exposure levels vary. Hearing loss is cumulative, meaning that the less time you’re exposed to loud noises over the course of your life, the better your hearing health is likely to be. The point at which sound begins to damage hearing is 85 dB, for which the permissible continuous exposure period is about eight hours. For each 3 dB increase in noise pressure, the permissible exposure time before hearing damage can occur is cut in half. For example, permissible exposure to 88 dB would be four hours, 91 dB would be two hours, 94 dB would be one hour, etc.
Heavy-duty earmuffs can create a seal around the ear that cuts out noise to the same level as many earplugs. The main disadvantages of a larger headset are the possibility for less mobility, and the possibility that they may fall off, leaving the ears exposed for some period of time. Earplugs may also fall out, but custom-fit earplugs are likely to stay sealed comfortably in the ear for as long as you’d like to wear them.
13121 E. Philadelphia St.
Whittier, CA 90601