Hearing loss is a gradual and normal part of the aging process. However, excessive noise exposure is still the primary cause. Once permanent hearing loss occurs, it cannot be reversed. Permanent hearing loss can occur almost instantly when exposed to excessive noise levels such as gun fire or a fire cracker exploding at close range.
Noise levels are measured in decibels (dB). OdB is the faintest sound the human ear can detect. The noise of a jet engine at takeoff can exceed 140dB. Experts consider exposure to more than 85dB to be dangerously loud and can lead to permanent hearing loss.
Did you know that a typical rock concert can start to damage your hearing within 7 minutes (120dB)? A leaf blower can damage your hearing within 15 minutes (115dB) and listening to music though stereo headphones can put your hearing at risk within 2 hours (100dB).
There are several things you can do to protect your hearing from noise exposure:
- If the sound level exceeds 85dB, reduce the noise level or wear hearing protection.
- When wearing headphones or earbuds from iPods or MP3 players, keep the volume low. Try to follow the 60/60 rule when listening to music. This means you should listen to music at no more than 60% of your music player’s maximum volume for no more than 60 minutes at a time.
- Wear custom noise filers or solid earplugs if you go to concerts or nightclubs, and do not stand near the speakers. The further away from the sound source, the better. If you experience a ringing sound in your ears or your ears feel full when leaving a concert, those are warning signs that it was dangerously loud.
- Use quality hearing protection when using all common lawn equipment including; leaf blowers, snow blowers, lawn movers and chain saws. Hearing protection is available at pharmacies, hardware stores and sporting goods stores.
Hearing loss due to noise exposure is not reversible. Protect the hearing you have!
Dr. Shannon Gibbons