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Loud noise can be very damaging to your hearing, whether it’s a loud burst or years of prolonged exposure. This is commonly called noise induce hearing loss. Sounds are measured in decibels, and those exceeding 85 decibels can seriously damage your hearing. The worst part is, once the damage is done it is permanent. The best plan of action is to protect your hearing before the damage is done and part of that is knowing the sources of damaging noise around you and the best ways to protect your hearing from them.
Sources of Damaging Noise
Noise Related Hearing Loss or NIHL can be caused by a one-time exposure to a sound, such as an explosion, or by continuous exposure to loud sounds over an extended period of time, such as noise generated in a woodworking shop. Recreational activities that can put you at risk for NIHL include target shooting and hunting, listening to MP3 players at high volume through ear buds or headphones, playing in a band, and attending loud concerts. Harmful noises at home may come from sources including lawnmowers, leaf blowers, and woodworking tools.
Sound is measured in units called decibels. Sounds at or below 70 A-weighted decibels (dBA), even after long exposure, are unlikely to cause hearing loss. However, long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 dBA can cause hearing loss. The louder the sound, the shorter the amount of time it takes for NIHL to happen. Approximately 15 percent of adults 18 years of age or older report some trouble hearing, and the risk rises as we age. Up to 39 percent of adults in their sixties are having problems hearing. The good news is that taking action now may protect you from hearing loss later in life.
Protective Hearing Gear
When you are in a noisy environment, wear protective hearing gear such as earplugs or protective earphones. You likely can find earplugs at your local drugstore or music supply shop, but you can also ask your audiologist for more information. For people who are regularly exposed to noise, your audiologist may recommend custom earplugs.
Hearing Protection in the Work Place
One of the most common types of injuries that occurs in the workplace is hearing damage. Millions of people experience some type of hearing loss, ringing in the ears, or other issues related to being exposed to noises in the work place. Unfortunately, this type of hearing damage can occur over the course of a long time, so people don’t notice it is happening at first. Prolonged noise exposure is typically quite a bit lower in terms of dBs, but it is no less dangerous. One thing that makes this type of exposure particularly dangerous is that after just a couple minutes, most people will get used to the noise and barely even notice it, but just because someone doesn’t notice the noise, does not mean they are not damaging their hearing. People who work in loud environments without sufficient hearing protection will likely experience permanent hearing loss, tinnitus, or other hearing-related problems that can affect them the rest of their lives.
Earplugs are one of the oldest forms of hearing protection, and they continue to be very effective for environments on the low level of the decibel scale where hearing protection is needed. Earplugs are extremely inexpensive to buy and are disposable in most cases. Employers can put out large containers of them for the employees to wear when entering loud environments, and then employees can discard them when leaving.
Earmuffs are designed to fit over or around the head and then cover the entire ear rather than just going into the ear canal. A properly fitting pair of earmuffs can provide a tremendous amount of protection since they stop the sound from entering the ear at all. There are many levels of earmuffs on the market, each designed to stop a different amount of noise, so it is important that the right type is chosen for the right situation.
All Ears Doctors
Protecting your hearing is an act of self-love that you can do for your self for your future. It’s easy to wear hearing protection and the results are invaluable. If you suspect you have suffered hearing loss contact us at All Ears Doctors to set up a hearing test. We can assess the extent of the damage and help find a solution for your hearing needs.