8 common sounds that can damage your hearingAudiology by Accent
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost half of people ages 60 and older have a hearing loss. As more people live longer, the number of people with hearing loss is expected to reach 86 million by 2040. Hearing damage accumulates as people grow older, and many people who suffer from hearing loss were likely exposed to loud noise, causing damage over time. Repeated or prolonged exposure to noise of 85 decibels or higher can have a negative impact on your hearing ability. Noise levels are likely too high when people have to raise their voices when standing at arm’s length to be heard. When noise reaches between 80 and 85 decibels, the delicate hair cells in the inner ear can sustain harm after two hours. When sound is at 110 decibels, by contrast, the hair cells can be damaged after a five-minute exposure. Here are some common sounds that could result in hearing loss.
1. Target shooting/hunting
Target shooting or hunting with a gun emits sound between 140 to 175 decibels. Even a single shotgun blast can cause tinnitus or hearing loss when a person fails to protect his or her ears. However, many people fail to use hearing protection when shooting or hunting. To protect your hearing, you should wear foam earplugs and earmuffs while at a gun range, and you should put on your hearing protection before you arrive.
2. Live concerts
Live concerts can emit sounds ranging from 110 to 130 decibels, including classical music concerts. Many musicians have hearing loss because of their noise exposure while performing. Despite this, most concert attendees do not wear hearing protection when attending live concerts.
3. Athletic events
Athletic events such as baseball and football games can emit noises ranging from 90 to 140 decibels. The roar of a crowd can damage the attendees’ hearing without hearing protection. For example, the crowd noise at a 2014 Kansas City Chiefs game reached 142.2 decibels, which was a world record.
4. Home renovations
Home renovation projects can emit noises ranging from 90 to 112 decibels. Tools used in home renovations, including shop vacs, sanders, and table saws can cause accumulated hearing damage over time, and circular saws are loud enough to damage hearing in as little as a minute.
5. Gas-powered lawn equipment
Gas-powered lawn equipment, including mowers and blowers, emit noises ranging from 80 to 100 decibels. You also should not listen to music while mowing with headphones, because you will have to turn the volume very high to drown out the sound of the mower.
6. Motorcycles and boats
Motorcycles and boats have engines that emit sound ranging from 95 to 100 decibels. When you ride a motorcycle or operate a boat, the noise from the wind can also cause damage to your hearing. You can purchase special earplugs that minimize wind noise while still allowing you to hear horns, sirens, and other traffic sounds.
7. Music from earbuds or headphones
Using earbuds or headphones can damage your hearing if you turn up the volume. Most earbuds and headphones allow you to turn up the volume to as high as 110 decibels. If you use earbuds or headphones, keep the sound low enough so that the person next to you cannot hear what you are listening to.
8. Exercise classes
Many fitness trainers turn up the volume to levels that can damage the hearing of people who attend with sounds ranging from 80 to 116 decibels. If you attend group exercise classes, you can either wear hearing protection or ask the trainer to turn the volume down.
Protecting your hearing
There are apps that you can download that allow you to measure the decibels of noises around you. Make sure to carry disposable earplugs that you can use in noisy environments. If you will be going to a shooting range or other extremely loud environment, you should purchase earmuffs and wear both.
For concerts and athletic events, consider purchasing flat response or high fidelity earplugs. These do not muffle sounds but instead maintain the overall sound quality while reducing the volume.
While noise-induced hearing loss cannot be cured, hearing aids can help. If you have suffered hearing loss, contact Audiology by Accent for a consultation at (352) 271-5373.