Monitoring Your Daily Exposure to Noise

Monitoring Your Daily Exposure to Noise

It’s a noisy world out there and we may be so used to it we don’t even notice. For instance, if you live near the highway at first the sound may stand out but after years, you may not even notice. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s not an issue. Sounds can bring calm such as a babbling brook or the chirping of birds, but often the sounds of engines and machinery can become consistently loud. This is known as noise pollution. 

Noise Pollution

The intensity of sound is measured in decibels and any decibel level over 85dB can cause permanent damage to your hearing. It takes 8 hours of constant exposure of 85dB for damage to hearing to occur, however the decibels don’t even need to be that loud to be harmful. A spike of decibel level every now and then at 75dB isn’t a big deal and you could be exposed to that level all day and it wouldn’t cause hearing damage. However, noise pollution can be more than just annoying. When there is consistent loud noise where you work or you live it is unescapable. Noise pollution causes cortisol, the stress hormone to be released in the body. Cortisol affects fight or flight response and can keep you in a constant state of adrenaline. Over time this can escalate into a myriad of health concerns including: stress, poor concentration, productivity losses in the workplace, and fatigue from lack of sleep, to more serious issues such as cardiovascular disease. 

Monitoring Your Decibel Level

It takes 8 hours at 85dB for hearing damage to occur, but as the decibels rise the time it takes for a person to suffer damage shrinks quickly. The decibel scale is quite complex and for each 10 dB difference, it represents a tenfold increase in intensity. At 95 dB it only takes under an hour for damage to occur and at 105, it takes under 15 minuets! It’s important to know the decibels around you in your day to day routine. Because we can get used to all sorts of environmental factors, we may not realize it as being a big problem, but it could be contributing to lifelong hearing loss, even now. Using a free app available on most smartphones you can measure the average sound in the places you frequent regularly. If you feel you have to shout when you speak, then it’s likely it’s too loud for safe listening and you should ideally be wearing hearing protection.

Not Just for Older Adults

Hearing Loss is commonly thought of as a condition which affects older adults. One in three people deal with hearing loss, often due to changes in the inner ear as we age and this number jumps to one in two, by 75 years and older. However, exposure to sound can damage hearing at any age. For instance, teenagers and young adults are increasingly becoming more at risk of noise induced hearing loss. The Hearing Health Foundation Reports:

  • 50% of people ages 12-35 could be exposed to unsafe noise from personal listening devices
  • 40% of people ages 12-35 could be exposed to potentially damaging levels of sound at entertainment venues

Protect Your Hearing Health

There are numerous ways you can protect your hearing health and reduce your risk of hearing loss. For instance, if you are wearing headphones to listen to music and media, make sure that you keep them turned down lower than 60 percent of the available volume. Headphones have the potential to reach 105 dB, loud enough to damage hearing in just minutes, so it’s important to be aware. Make sure to take listening breaks to give your ears a break. 

Other tips to protect your hearing from noise include:

Wear Protective Gear: to lower the decibel level in a place you frequent protective earplugs or protective headphones can help lower the decibel level from 15 to 33dB. 

Noise Cancelling Headphones If you wear headphones to block out noise, make sure to invest in noise canceling headphones. They detect the noises around you and send an inverted sound wave which cancels out the ambient sound in the room. This allows you to enjoy media at a safe listening level and enhances the sound quality too!

Have Your Hearing Assessed

If you suspect you have suffered hearing damage, it’s important to have it tested and treated as soon as possible. Contact us to schedule a hearing exam today.