Noise and Hearing Loss
One of the most common types of hearing loss is noise-induced hearing loss. When the ear has been exposed to a high volume, the fragile sensory hair cells within the ear can be damaged. Damage from noise can take place over an extended time period, such as someone working with loud machinery at a job or attending concerts or sporting events. Damaging noises can also be brief, such as an alarm or gunfire. Extended or repeated exposure to sounds greater than 85 dB can cause hearing loss.
The following graphic presents a visual of noise exposure and its threat to your hearing:
There is currently no cure for hearing loss. If you are concerned about noise exposure and your hearing health, you can take action in the following ways:
- Use disposable or reusable earplugs that are placed inside the ear canal and block out noise. Closely follow instructions on the earplug packaging to ensure your earplug is properly fit.
- Using sound isolating earbuds or earmuff headphones when listening to a personal music device will block out environmental noise and allow you to listen to audio at lower volume levels.
- Turning down the volume on audio devices, no matter how you listen, can allow you to enjoy your audio for longer periods of time without the threat of hearing loss.
- Look for quieter products when purchasing power tools, home appliances, or sporting equipment.
- Give your ears time to rest after long exposure to noise. Just like giving rest to your body after a vigorous workout, it is also beneficial to give your ears rest. Researchers have found that ears need at least 16 hours of recovery after one loud night out.1
- Get your hearing checked by a professional, especially if you are frequently exposed to noise. It is recommended that adults between the ages of 18-59 get a hearing check at least once. After age 60, adults typically lose 1 dB of hearing each year , so a hearing check should be considered annually.
1 Walling & Dickson. Am Fam Physician. 2012 Jun 15;85(12):1150-1156