Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is more common than you think, and roughly 40 million Americans struggle to hear. With our noisy city streets, loud jobs, and leisure activities that risk our hearing health, this number continues to rise. While some face hearing loss due to aging, or through illness or injury, an alarmingly high number of individuals have hearing loss due to exposure to noise.

Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) is hearing loss caused by exposure to dangerously loud noises. NIHL can be sudden, and one evening at an extremely loud concert could cost you your hearing. NIHL is often gradual, and your ears start to experience the wear and tear of the constant exposure to noise from bustling city streets, the construction site at the corner, and unsafe listening practices when blasting music through earbuds during your morning run. Noise induced hearing loss is completely preventable, so it’s important that you look for the signs of NIHL in your life, and do the right thing for your hearing health.

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What Causes Noise Induced Hearing Loss?

We’re surrounded by loud noises day in and day out, and many of us don’t realize the damage we’re doing to our ears. Traffic noise, home appliances, and our children’s school can all be extremely loud, and chip away at our hearing. Some leisure activities, like attending a sports event or music festival can also affect your hearing health. Our environment is so saturated with noise that you might not realize what sounds are leading to hearing loss.

When your ears are exposed to very loud noises, the delicate cells in your inner ear, or cochlea, can be damaged. The first sounds to be affected are high frequency sounds, and if the cells in your inner ear that hear high frequency sounds are damaged or destroyed, you’ll experience hearing loss in those registers. NIHL often lead to tinnitus as well, and you may start to notice that annoying buzzing or ringing sound in your ears when everything around you is quiet.

Understanding Decibels

To protect your hearing, it’s important to understand decibels. It might be hard to know when loud becomes too loud, but a good rule of thumb is that if you have to yell to be heard by the person standing next to you, it’s too loud and you need to take immediate action to protect your hearing.

Decibels (dB) are a way to measure the loudness of the sounds around you, and provide a guide as to what sounds will damage your hearing. The bigger the number the louder the sound, and sounds over 85 dB are considered dangerous to your hearing health. The louder the sound, the faster you’ll experience damage to your hearing health, and risk tinnitus and hearing loss. If you’re exposed to sounds around 85 dB, it can take several hours to affect your hearing, but if you stand next to a jet engine taking off, or directly beside fireworks, hearing loss can be immediate.

Sounds that can cause hearing loss include:

  • Operating lawnmowers and leaf blowers (80-85 dB)
  • Driving a motorcycle (95 dB)
  • Traffic noise like a subway car, honking, or air brakes (100 dB)
  • Personal listening devices at maximum volume (105–110 dB)
  • Emergency sirens (120 dB)
  • Fireworks and firecrackers (140 dB)
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What Causes Noise Induced Hearing Loss?

We’re surrounded by loud noises day in and day out, and many of us don’t realize the damage we’re doing to our ears. Traffic noise, home appliances, and our children’s school can all be extremely loud, and chip away at our hearing. Some leisure activities, like attending a sports event or music festival can also affect your hearing health. Our environment is so saturated with noise that you might not realize what sounds are leading to hearing loss.

When your ears are exposed to very loud noises, the delicate cells in your inner ear, or cochlea, can be damaged. The first sounds to be affected are high frequency sounds, and if the cells in your inner ear that hear high frequency sounds are damaged or destroyed, you’ll experience hearing loss in those registers. NIHL often lead to tinnitus as well, and you may start to notice that annoying buzzing or ringing sound in your ears when everything around you is quiet.

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Understanding Decibels

To protect your hearing, it’s important to understand decibels. It might be hard to know when loud becomes too loud, but a good rule of thumb is that if you have to yell to be heard by the person standing next to you, it’s too loud and you need to take immediate action to protect your hearing.

Decibels (dB) are a way to measure the loudness of the sounds around you, and provide a guide as to what sounds will damage your hearing. The bigger the number the louder the sound, and sounds over 85 dB are considered dangerous to your hearing health. The louder the sound, the faster you’ll experience damage to your hearing health, and risk tinnitus and hearing loss. If you’re exposed to sounds around 85 dB, it can take several hours to affect your hearing, but if you stand next to a jet engine taking off, or directly beside fireworks, hearing loss can be immediate.

Sounds that can cause hearing loss include:

  • Operating lawnmowers and leaf blowers (80-85 dB)
  • Driving a motorcycle (95 dB)
  • Traffic noise like a subway car, honking, or air brakes (100 dB)
  • Personal listening devices at maximum volume (105–110 dB)
  • Emergency sirens (120 dB)
  • Fireworks and firecrackers (140 dB)
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Protecting Your Hearing

If you’re exposed to dangerously loud sounds at work or during leisure activities, it’s important to protect your hearing! Foam earplugs can work in a pinch, but don’t always provide adequate protection, and can be uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time.

Custom hearing protection is a game changer, and you’ll be able to comfortably wear hearing protection for an entire day. Molded to fit your ears, these digital earpieces will sense the sounds around you, and provide protection when you need it. If you’re talking with coworkers, or aren’t exposed to dangerous sounds, the devices will allow sound to enter your ears naturally. As soon as they detect excessively loud noise, they’ll automatically provide protection and block dangerous noise, protecting your ears and safeguarding your hearing health.

Have Questions?

Reach out to Selective Hearing Centers today!

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