Do you work in a noisy job? If you do, you could be at risk from hearing damage at work. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that a staggering 1 out of every 4 American workers have been repeatedly exposed to dangerous noise, while about 12% of all workers in the US have hearing difficulty. However, even if you don’t work in a traditionally loud job such as construction, manufacturing, or farm work, your hearing could still be at risk. There are many less predictable sources of noise that can damage your hearing in your daily life. Knowing the decibel levels of the sounds in your life can help you to know when it’s time to protect your hearing.
Noise-induced hearing Loss
Noise-induced hearing loss occurs when sounds surpass a safe listening threshold, causing audio vibrations to damage the fragile hair-like cells which deliver sound to the brain. The safe listening threshold is 85dB and most people can withstand 8 hours of constant exposure at this level before damage begins. This is important for people who work in noisy environments where work shifts are typically 8 hours or longer. However, as the decibel level rises, the time it takes for damage to occur shrinks. At five decibels higher, 90dB can damage hearing in under an hour! Noise-Induced hearing loss is a serious problem that threatens to become more widespread if proper education and precautions are not enforced on an institutional and individual level. The reports that almost two out of ten adults in the United States between the ages of 20 and 69 have permanent hearing loss due to excessive noise exposure and this level threatens to double in the next 30 years. Here are a few sources of noise-induced hearing loss you may not expect.
A night at the movies
Now that many of us are returning to the movie theaters we can again enjoy the immersive experience of visuals and audio sensation. However, you may want to attend your next movie wearing hearing protection. Often decibels in movies can fluctuate between 104 decibels! 100 decibels typically can cause damage in under 15 minutes.
If you live near a highway or major road, levels of highway traffic noise typically range from 70 to 80 dB at a distance of 50 feet from the highway. While this isn’t a level that can damage your hearing it can be distracting, increasing heart rates, or limiting the ability to carry on a conversation. However, during your commute, if you like the windows rolled down, then the level of sound can reach 89 dB, loud enough to damage hearing in around an hour.
The danger of headphones and earbuds
Hearing loss is commonly mistaken as a condition that affects an older population. However, it is often personal listening to devices that hook up to headphones or earbuds which is believed to cause spikes in hearing loss for younger generations. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that nearly half of all people between 12 and 35 years old might be exposed to unsafe levels of sound from their headphones or personal audio devices. At full volume, unlimited streaming options can be delivered straight to the ear canal at a range of 94 to 110-decibel levels. That’s enough to damage hearing in under a minute, yet people often stream music and media through their headphones for hours. A rule of thumb is never turn up your headphones past 60% of the potential volume and take listening breaks every hour.
Live sporting events
If you love to catch a game now and then in a stadium it’s best to come prepared with hearing protection. Noise levels at sports events can average 94 to 110 decibels, however, the world record at a Seattle Seahawks game registered at 140dB. This level can be damaged in seconds!
Similarly, live music can be a source of loud noise. Even if it’s not Rock or Pop music that you love, but classical music, the decibels can be loud enough to cause permanent loss.
Going to a fireworks display
As summer rolls around it’s common to hear fireworks at night. Whether you enjoy lighting fireworks at home or going to see a firework display, decibels can reach explosive levels between 140 to 160 decibels. That can leave you with permanent hearing loss in seconds.
Schedule annual hearing exams
If you suspect that you have sustained noise-induced hearing loss, it’s important to address it right away. Don’t delay in scheduling a hearing exam with us today.