Around 40 million people living in the United States alone suffer from hearing loss. Unfortunately, that number seems to just be increasing as the years go by. Excessive noise alone causes about 30 percent of all hearing loss. Exposure to loud noises for just 15 minutes a day can cause significant, permanent damage to your hearing over time. Many cases of hearing loss caused by prolonged exposure to loud noises are preventable. So why do so many people suffer from this type of hearing loss? One of the problems is that many people don’t even know how damaging noise can be to their ears in the long run. Other problems contribute as well, like lack of routine hearing loss screening tests and people having insufficient knowledge about what they can do to lessen or avoid noise-induced hearing loss altogether.
What you can do to prevent noise-induced hearing loss
To avoid noise-induced hearing loss, there are a few things you can do. The following practices will significantly reduce the chance that your hearing is permanently damaged by loud noises.
First, try to be aware of when you’re being exposed to loud noises. Any noise above about 85 decibels (dB) may cause damage if you’re exposed to it for too long. For comparison, a normal conversation usually clocks in at about 50-70 dB, motorcycles are about 85-90 dB, and loud concerts are 110+ dB. The best thing to do if you’re being exposed to loud noises for long periods of time is to take periodic 15 minute breaks. During the break, find a nice, quiet area and let your ears have a rest. The frequency of breaks depends on how loud the sound is—it’s only safe to be exposed to 100 dB for about 15 minutes at a time.
If at all possible, you can also avoid these types of situations altogether. If you’re in a situation where you would have to raise your voice in order for someone near you to hear you, your ears are probably being exposed to too much noise. If you’re going to attend a loud concert or similar show, make sure that you’re not up close to the amps and speakers. Being as close as possible to the performers can be a rush, but, typically, speakers of the size used in performances can cause serious damage to your ears in a short period of time. Avoid listening to music too loudly, operating loud machinery for extended periods of time without ear protection, and other similar situations.
Speaking of ear protection, if you have to be around loud noises that you can’t avoid it’s important to wear some kind of earplug or earmuff. Most ear protection products will reduce the noise level by over 20 dB. You should always make sure you’re wearing a product that has noise reduction significant enough for the environment you’ll be in.
Finally, if you are experiencing hearing loss or if you have ear pain, make sure to tell your doctor about it right away. Most people wait years before they ever seek help for their hearing loss. There are simple, painless tests to determine what’s going on with your hearing. Your doctor can guide you in the right direction and help you get back on the track toward a future without hearing loss. Protect your hearing with Kenwood Hearing Centers.