There are times that an annoyance in your life just needs a little getting used to. When summer first arrives, it might take a few days for your body to adjust to the heat. Breaking in a new pair of shoes might require a few wears before they’re perfect, so you put up with a little discomfort. But when it comes to your hearing, you should never remain in a too loud environment waiting to become accustomed to the volume. That’s because noise induced hearing loss is irreversible. Instead, protect the hearing levels you currently have by becoming aware of the dangers of everyday sounds and household items that could lead to permanent hearing loss.
Hearing loss in the United States
Hearing loss impacts a huge portion of the population. It’s a public health issue that affects more than 37 million people in the United States. We typically associate hearing loss to one of two causes: congenital hearing loss in which this issue is present at birth, or the more common age-related hearing loss that is part of the natural aging process. However, noise induced hearing loss, or the damage done to healthy hearing systems when exposed to dangerously loud sounds, can come about at any age and stage.
Causes of noise induced hearing loss
Noise induced hearing loss can make a sudden appearance that persists throughout the rest of life when a traumatic noise event occurs. A car accident, explosion or some other dramatic event can produce noise that immediately and permanently damages the delicate inner ear cells that receive noise information before it’s processed as hearing in the brain. However, repeated exposure to too loud sounds over a period of time can also harm hearing to the same degree. In fact, any sound over 85 decibels can cause long lasting damage, which is the standard Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) uses to make sure that employees’ hearing is safe in their workplace.
Household items with dangerous decibels
But sounds at 85 decibels are not typically considered uncommonly loud in today’s society. Though our ears evolved to be of use in a non-mechanical world, the advancements of the past century have certainly meant our society has increased in volume, by volumes!
A surprising number of machines we use or are exposed to on a daily basis emit sounds at or well above OSHA’s standards. Getting ready for a workday can be dangerous before you even step foot in the office. Consider using your hair dryer (80-90 decibels), making a morning smoothie in a blender (80-90 decibels), being amidst city traffic (85 decibels) or a subway ride (90 decibels). A few moments of exposure aren’t much to bounce back from, but this routine day in and day out over a period of years can result in real damage.
Should you skip the household chores?
As if you needed another reason to put off those pesky household chores, they could be wreaking havoc on your hearing. Light chores, like mowing the lawn can register around 100 decibels, and more intense repairs, such as using a hand drill or chainsaw comes in at about the same. But don’t just tear up that to-do list and use your free time to play instead. Routine recreational activities can be dangerous for your hearing health, too! A motorcycle ride (90-95 decibels), rock concert (110 decibels), or firecrackers and firearms (150 decibels) can all provide a little fun in the moment but carry a momentous impact if noise exposure lasts too long or is too frequent.
This shouldn’t be a deterrent from making your way to work, taking care of household chores or enjoying recreational activities. After all, these are equally important ingredients to a responsible and full life. However, this information should make you aware of the need to protect your hearing. After all, we only get one shot at healthy hearing.
Protect your hearing
Pay attention to how you feel in a noisy environment. If you think it’s too loud, unfortunately, you’re probably right. You might notice that your ears are sore or that your hearing is muffled, almost like you’re underwater. These are definitive signs of being in the presence of too loud sounds. When this occurs, leave the source of the noise and give your ears a break.
If you can’t fully walk away from the sounds and you need to be in the vicinity, use hearing protection. This can be as simple as a pair of cheap foam earplugs from the drugstore, or as intricate as a pair of expensive (and effective!) noise canceling headphones or custom earplugs. If your hearing health has already been affected, do consult us at Atlanta Hearing Doctor to schedule a quick hearing test and to discuss the next best steps to restore your hearing.