Facts about Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Approximately 40 million American adults suffer from hearing loss due to noise exposure. Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by damage to the hair cells found in the inner ear. They are small sensory cells that convert the sounds we hear into signals that travel to the brain. Once damaged, hair cells cannot grow back, which causes permanent hearing loss.
Effective hearing protection decreases the intensity of noise and helps preserve hearing.
Harmful sounds are those that are too loud for too long or can be very loud and sudden. Examples are:
- exposure to a one-time intense “impulse” sound such as an explosion
- continuous exposure to loud sounds over an extended period of time such as at a concert may be harmful.
Remember: The louder the sound, the shorter the amount of time you can safely be around it.
Harmful sounds are encountered at work, home, or during recreational activities.
Signs that sound is dangerous to your hearing:
- You have to shout over background noise to be heard
- The noise is painful to your ears
- The noise makes your ears ring
- You have decreased or “muffled” hearing for several hours after exposure
Noise-induced hearing loss is most often caused by sounds over 85 dB.
Common sounds & decibel levels:
- 60 dB -Normal conversations, dishwashers
- 80 dB – Alarm clocks
- 90 dB – Hair dryers, blenders, lawnmowers
- 100 dB – MP3 players at full volume
- 110 dB – Concerts (any music genre), car racing, sporting events
- 120 dB – Jet planes at take off
- 130 dB – Ambulance, fire engine sirens
- 140 dB – Gun shots, fireworks, custom car stereos at full volume
Protect your hearing:
- Wear hearing protection when around sounds louder than 85 dB.
- Use custom hearing protection for musicians and hunters.
- Turn down the volume when listening to anything through earbuds and headphones.
- Walk away from dangerous noise levels.
Untreated hearing loss can affect your ability to understand speech. This can negatively impact your social and emotional well-being. If you, or someone you care about, is suffering from hearing loss, see an audiologist near you soon.