The sound of water tells us we are close to a stream, or as the sound builds it may tell us we are closer to a waterfall! There are sounds all around us that inform us of the world we live in. However, as sounds build, they can become loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss. Of the 48 million people in the US who live with hearing loss, 40 million show signs on hearing exams which note hearing loss caused by noise. It’s important to be aware of everyday sounds- some may be more dangerous than we may first suspect.
How Loud Is Too Loud?
The volume or loudness of sound is measured in decibels (dBA). We can listen to sounds under a safe listening threshold for extended amounts of time without sustaining hearing damage. However, past the threshold, sounds can create severe enough vibrations to shatter and damage the tiny hair-like cells of the inner ear which send sounds from our ear to our brain. When these cells are damaged or destroyed it leaves us with permanent hearing loss. The threshold for safe listening begins at an exposure of 85 dBA for 8 hours or more. As the decibels rise, the time it takes for damage to occur shrinks quickly. For instance at 95 dBA, it takes only around an hour for damage to occur and at 105 it can occur in as little as 15 minuets! Let’s explore some decibel levels many of us meet every day!
Not everyone comes into contact with guns and firearms every day, but those who do need to take extra care around protecting their ears. A single gunshot can create a decibel level between 140 to 175! This can cause serious hearing damage almost instantaneously. If you enjoy hunting, target practice or work around fire arms, it’s important to practice extreme caution and practice safe listening protocol at all times. This often includes special hearing protection which allow in quieter sounds but cancels out sounds at more extreme and dangerous decibel levels.
There is nothing like a live concert and the beauty of feeling the same music with a crowd full of people. However, it’s important to come prepared with hearing protection. Aside from the crowds of adoring fans in larger venues, amplified music can reach between 110 to 130 decibels. This isn’t only for rock concerts and pop but classical music as well.
Stadiums full of cheering fans and roaring triumphant music when your team scores can be riveting but also a risk to your ears. Athletic events such as baseball and football games can build up to decibel levels ranging from 90 to 140 decibels. The Guinness World record for stadium noise measures at 142.2 dBA at F a 2014 Kansas City Chiefs game reached 142.2 decibels! Come prepared with hearing protection
Its always nice when you can save some money and gain some skills by doing home renovation projects yourself. Whether it’s building new kitchen cabinets or retiling your floor, be aware of the decibels that power tools can create. These very useful and handy tools such as shop vacs, sanders, and table saws can range from 90 to 112 decibels. After hours of work on your home, you could walk away with hearing loss if you don’t practice safe listening protocols.
Gas-powered lawn equipment
When the weekend comes, you’ll see people all over mowing their lawns, blowing away leaves and even snow blowing, depending on the weather. These machines can get very loud. Gas-powered lawn equipment, including mowers and blowers can emit noises ranging from 80 to 100 decibels. While it may be tempting to listen to music while you work via headphones, this can only make decibel levels even louder!
Music from earbuds or headphones
Speaking of headphones and earbuds, this invention may be the single largest cause of hearing loss for a younger generation than ever before. Headphones connected to smartphones and mp3 players have the capacity to deliver sounds as high as 110 dBA for hours on end! This is a serious problem and further education and public outreach is essential in changing listening habits with personal listening devices.
If you suspect that you have some degree of hearing loss, its always a good idea to schedule a hearing exam. Contact us today!