How loud is too loud?

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Do loud noises ever hurt your ears? From televisions and construction work, to heavy traffic and a restaurant full of people talking. The world is a noisy place.

While hearing loss can be part of the aging process, studies have shown that exposure to as few as 90 decibels can lead to temporary or permanent hearing loss. But how loud is too loud? This application will give you an idea of how everyday situations such as meeting with friends in a café or going to a rock concert can affect your hearing.

What is it?

Noise-induced Hearing Loss (or NIHL) is permanent damage to the sensitive hearing organ, the cochlea, and or auditory nerve, caused by exposure to loud sounds in the environment. The effects can be immediate or may take time to become noticeable and the hearing loss can be temporary or permanent depending on the damage done. It can affect one or both ears and can be happening even if you aren’t aware of any pain.

It can be difficult to know if you have Noise-induced Hearing Loss as it can be very gradual in its onset and hard to notice over time. It can happen at any time and at any age. Some signs that you may have NIHL are an inability to hear high-pitched sounds, difficulty hearing conversations in noisy spaces, and hearing only muffled sounds when attempting to hear speech at a distance.

Over time, if left untreated, your hearing can continue to deteriorate and you may find yourself losing lower frequencies too. This can make understanding speech very difficult.

Sound is measured in a unit called decibels and a normal conversation in a public place, like a restaurant or office, is around 60dB. In comparison watching the TV or listening to the radio is around 70dBs and a dishwasher or food blender is about 80-88dB. Daily exposure to as few as 90dB of noise over a prolonged period of several hours can lead to hearing loss in the long term

What can you do to prevent it?

Sadly, once the damage is done, it is irreversible.

But the good news is that Noise-induced Hearing Loss is preventable.

Here are some things you can do to help prevent Noise-induced Hearing Loss:

  • Be aware of which noises can cause damage. Generally those above 85 decibels.
  • Wear earplugs when operating noisy machinery or involved in other loud activities.
  • Move away from loud noises if you can’t reduce them.
  • Protect the hearing of children.
  • Spread the word to protect the safety of family, loved ones and others nearby when at noisy events.
  • Get your hearing tested by an audio specialist as soon as possible if you suspect you may be suffering hearing loss.

Your hearing is precious and should be protected and maintained by every means possible. If should avoid doing unnecessary damage if you can.