There’s no doubt that we live in a noisy world. With all of the gizmos, gadgets and machinery that make our lives easier, we’re also subject to daily noise exposure that our ancestors probably never even dreamed of. Unfortunately, this continued exposure to loud noise can be detrimental to our hearing.
Daily Noise Exposure Can Lead to Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, prolonged or repeated exposure to sounds louder than 85 decibels (dB) can lead to noise-induced hearing loss. That’s because these sounds damage tiny hair cells inside the ear. These cells play an integral part in hearing but they don’t regenerate like other cells.
How Do You Know When a Sound Is Too Loud?
Simply knowing that loud sounds are considered to be those over 85 dB isn’t enough. In order to determine whether or not your daily noise exposure is at dangerous levels, it’s wise to have a good idea of what ‘too loud’ looks like.
Here are some examples of noises you may be exposed to frequently that are 85 dB and above:
- 85 dB: Noisy restaurant
- 85 dB: Hairdryer
- 85 dB: Garbage disposal
- 90 dB: Power tools
- 90 dB: Dance clubs
- 100 dB: MP3 players
- 110 dB: Sporting events
- 120 dB: Airplane takeoff
- 130 dB: Ambulance
- 130 dB: Concert
- 140 dB: Fireworks or guns
While simply using a power tool to hang up shelving at home isn’t likely to cause hearing loss, this same activity can be harmful to your hearing if you do it for several hours a day. For example, a building contractor who runs saws, drills, and other power equipment all day long should certainly be concerned about his or her daily noise exposure.
Monitor Daily Noise Exposure to Help Prevent Hearing Loss
Obviously, the list mentioned earlier doesn’t describe everything you do that could lead to daily noise exposure that’s at dangerous levels. Without a handy sound decibel chart, how do you know what’s too loud and what isn’t as you go about your day?
One easy answer is to download a sound-measuring app on your smartphone. There are a variety of free and paid apps, such as Decibel X or Sound Meter, that measure decibels so you can easily identify sounds that could be dangerous to your hearing.
When in doubt, or if you don’t want to use a sound-measuring app or device, it’s best to play it safe. That means, if you must be exposed to a particular noise, wear appropriate hearing protection. For example, if you’re planning to mow the lawn for a few hours, it takes two seconds to put on a pair of earmuff style headphones just to be on the safe side. Going to a concert? Bring along a pair of ear plugs. You’ll still be able to hear the music just fine but the volume will be reduced to a safe hearing level.
If your job requires daily noise exposure, it’s especially important to wear hearing protection. In fact, OSHA regulations require employers to provide FREE hearing protection to employees exposed to 85 dB or more for an average of 8 hours per day. Take advantage of that or get your own, whichever you prefer. Either way, your hearing is too valuable to compromise.
Protect Your Hearing Health With a Thorough Hearing Evaluation
In addition to wearing hearing protection, having a regular hearing test is a great way to protect your hearing. That’s because your baseline hearing can be established and then future changes to it will be easily identifiable. If test results indicate hearing changes, you’ll be able to get appropriate treatment right away and possibly even be able to prevent further damage.
To schedule a hearing test or thorough hearing evaluation with one of our Mesa or Scottsdale audiologists, simply give us a call today. By monitoring your daily noise exposure, wearing hearing protection, and scheduling routine hearing health visits, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying healthy hearing for life!
Source: Hear Well-Live Well Blog