Did you know that exposure to loud noises is one of the most common reasons why people develop hearing loss? According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), at least 10 million adults in the U.S. have noise-induced hearing loss in one or both ears. While you can still enjoy things like loud music and fireworks shows every once in awhile, repeated exposure for long periods of time can potentially cause permanent damage. Follow these tips on how to protect you and your family’s ears the next time you’re around high-volume noise.
Sounds are typically measured in decibels (dB), but sounds perceived by the human ear are measured in A-weighted decibels (dBA). Exposure to any sounds over 85 dBA can cause noise-induced hearing loss. As the volume increases, your chances of developing hearing loss increase, as well. To help you understand the loudness of different sounds, here are some examples of common everyday noises and their dBA rating.
The best way to protect your ears from loud noises is to avoid them. Remember that some exposure is okay; it's just when you are around loud noises frequently and for a long time that your hearing may be affected. Just try to be mindful of this through your day-to-day life. For example, you can watch a movie at home instead of going out to the theater, and you can keep the volume low on your headphones. If you find yourself in a situation with unexpectedly loud noise, try to back away from it and give yourself some distance.
Some exposure to loud noises is inevitable, and that’s okay. In that case, it's recommended to wear protective hearing devices, such as ear plugs or earmuffs. There are many different styles available, making it easy to find one that matches your needs and fits your ears comfortably. If hearing protection isn’t available, you can cover your ears with your hands.
If you're concerned about potential hearing loss, schedule an evaluation. People who work in loud environments or who participate in loud recreational activities are at an increased risk. Watch out for warning signs that your hearing may not be as good as it used to be. For example, ringing in the ears (tinnitus) is commonly associated with noise-induced hearing loss. Likewise, if you find yourself asking, "What did you say?" or turning up the volume higher so you can hear, you may want to consult an audiologist and learn how to protect your ears from further damage.
Whether you already suffer from noise-induced hearing loss or you're trying to educate yourself on prevention, a visit to a specialist can help. We will be happy to talk about hearing protection and make sure your hearing health is the best it can be. Schedule your appointment today.