Latest posts by Jennifer G. Mayer, Au.D., CCC-A (see all)
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Hearing loss is no joking matter, and a surprising number of sounds can damage your hearing. If you’ve been worried about your hearing health, or think you need to do more to protect your hearing, consider these sounds that could harm your hearing.
Noise Induced Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can be caused by several factors, including illness, injury, genetics, or even aging. However, loud noises are often the culprit when it comes to hearing loss, and you could be putting your hearing at risk during some of your everyday activities. Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) can be very sudden, from exposure to one extremely loud noise. More often, NIHL is a gradual process, and you might not notice as your hearing loss slowly worsens due to exposure to damaging sounds in your daily life.
It’s All About the Decibels
Sound is measured in decibels (dB), and the higher the number, the louder the sound, and the sooner you’ll experience hearing loss. Sounds that are considered unsafe for your ears are sounds louder than 85 dB. For example, a standard hairdryer on high can be between 80 and 90 dB, and if you blow dry your hair for more than a few minutes this could be damaging your hearing. When loud sounds enter your ears, the vibrations can damage or destroy the delicate cells in the inner ear. Once these cells are damaged, they can’t be restored, and you’ll have permanent hearing loss.
Traffic and Heavy Machinery
Do you live in an area with a lot of traffic, or sit on the freeway for half an hour every day during rush hour? Traffic can be up to 90 dB, and seriously damage your hearing. Heavy equipment such as the trucks driving to and from the construction site around the corner, or even the garbage truck that rumbles by once a week are also around 90 dB.
Lawn Mower and Power Tools
You might not think that yard care would damage your hearing, but most gas lawn mowers are up to 95 dB! Leaf blowers, electric tree trimmers, or the sander you used on your deck last summer are all very loud, and can harm your hearing.
Other equipment, such as a chain saw, table saw, or jackhammer are also very loud, clocking in at around 100 dB. Make sure you always wear hearing protection when operating power tools or yard care equipment, and safeguard your hearing.
The Neighborhood School
Whether or not you have school-aged children, schools are notoriously loud places, both in the hallways and out on the playground. They usually reach over over 100 dB in volume, and an afternoon volunteering with your child’s class could be harming your hearing. At this volume, it’s only safe to be exposed to a few minutes of the noise before you risk your hearing health.
Motorbikes and Other Vehicles
Driving your motorbike could be a highlight of the summer months, but they can be extremely loud. Not only is the engine noisy, but the sound of the wind rushing past your ears adds to the volume, and raises the decibel levels to 110! Other sport vehicles such as snowmobiles, ATVs, or even motorboats are also very loud, and you should wear hearing protection when driving.
Another loud sound that could be harming your hearing is emergency sirens. At close range, they often reach 120 dB, and can permanently damage your hearing in just a couple minutes. Get out of the way when an emergency response vehicle is passing by, and if they’re parked close to you, cover your ears and leave the area as soon as possible.
It shouldn’t surprise you that firearms are among the loudest sounds. They are 140 dB, and can cause hearing loss instantly. Always wear hearing protection if you’re at the shooting range, and be sure you’re keeping your hearing safe.
South Shore Hearing Center
These are just a few of the sounds that could harm your hearing, so be sure to wear appropriate hearing protection and keep your ears safe. If you’re worried that you might have hearing loss, visit us at South Shore Hearing Center for a hearing test and find out more about how to protect yourself from dangerously loud sounds.