Excessive noise exposure is the most common cause of hearing loss.
The effect of noise is real and can be devastating. Often times, prolonged noise exposure can also lead to the development of tinnitus (constant ringing in the ears) which can be quite unbearable. The important thing is that no matter what your present level of hearing is, it’s never too late or too hard to prevent further damage.
So what constitutes loud noise? People differ in their sensitivity to noise. As a general rule, noise may damage your hearing if you have to shout over background noise to make yourself heard, if the noise hurts your ears, if it makes your ears ring, or if you have difficulty hearing for several hours after exposure to the noise. A soft whisper might be no higher than 30 dB SPL, while a firecracker might be as loud as 150 dB SPL. Sounds are considered harmful when they exceed 85 dB SPL, which is about the loudness of heavy traffic.
Noise at work and home
We rarely think about it, but daily exposure to excessive noise is the primary cause of hearing loss in the working population. The degree of loss will depend on the level of noise and duration of exposure. If you are surrounded by noise, whether it’s in your work or home environment, you can reduce the risks by using earplugs or other hearing protection devices. If your ears are not getting bombarded at work they might be at risk at home. Be aware that lawncare equipment, power tools and personal music players can put your hearing at risk.
Think about your total sound exposure during the day. The simplest way to start protecting your hearing is by limiting the amount of time you expose your ears to loud noise. By utilizing ear protection this will help save your hearing from further damage. Ear protectors come in all shapes and sizes, and even though they may not feel optimal at first, getting use to wearing them does not take long!