For most people, young and old, the key to keeping your hearing healthy is about knowing how much loud sound you are exposed to. Deafness (around 80%) is caused by damage to the tiny hair cells in the inner ear. This damage can be the result of too much noise, and it’s permanent.
It is important that we all take steps to prevent noise-related damage by avoiding loud noises. The louder the sound, the less time you can safely listen to it. Just because a sound isn’t annoying doesn’t make it safe.
Noisy occupations, such as working in factories or road construction, used to be the most common cause of hearing problems. But as health and safety rules have tightened and heavy industry has declined, the work environment is less of a potential hazard to hearing health.
Today, it’s recreational loud noise that’s the main problem, especially from MP3 players, such as iPods, noisy clubs, concerts and recreational vehicles. This is why hearing loss is increasingly affecting younger people.
The best way to avoid developing noise-induced hearing loss is to keep away from loud noise as much as you can.
Here’s a ranking to some typical noise levels (measured in decibels, or dB) versus normal conversation. The higher the number, the louder the noise. Noise levels above 105dB can damage your hearing if endured for more than 15 minutes each week. But lower levels, such as between 85dB and 90dB can also cause permanent damage if you're exposed to them for hours every day. For good hearing health, you need to try to avoid exposure to these noise levels for any time longer than these durations.
- Rock concert/ambulance siren: 120dB
- Chainsaw: 115-120dB
- MP3 player on loud: 112dB
- Disco/nightclub/car horn: 110dB
- Motorbikes: 100dB
- Cinema: some films regularly top 100dB during big action scenes
- Hand drill: 98dB
- Forklift truck: 90dB
- Lawn mower/heavy traffic: 85dB
- Normal conversation: 60-65dB
Five tips to better hearing health
The louder the noise and the longer you're exposed to it, the greater the chance of damaging your hearing. Protect your ears with ear protectors – earplugs or earmuffs – and get away from the noise as quickly or as often as you can.
Don't listen to your personal music player at very high volumes and never to drown out background noise. If the music is uncomfortable for you to listen to, hurts your ears or you can’t hear external sounds when you’ve got your headphones on, then it's too loud.
Listen to your music at 60% of the MP3 player's maximum volume for no more than an hour a day. If your MP3 player has a 'smart volume’ feature, use it.
When listening to your personal music player, use noise-cancelling headphones. Ear-bud style headphones and in-the-ear headphones are less effective at drowning out background noise. Try to take regular breaks from your headphones, though, to give your ears a rest.
If you’re experiencing noise at work, talk to your human resources department or your manager and ask for advice on reducing the noise and getting hearing protection.
Follow these tips for better hearing health to prevent damage.
To find out If it is too late and you already have permanent hearing loss due to over exposure to loud noises, take a FREE online hearing test at simpleear.com.