Facts about Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Over 36 million Americans have hearing loss. One in three of these developed their hearing loss as a result of exposure to noise.
Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by damage to the inner ear “hair cells” (cilia). Hair cells are small sensory cells that change the sounds we hear into electrical signals that travel to the brain. Once they are damaged, our hair cells cannot grow back, causing permanent hearing loss.
Hearing protection decreases the intensity, or loudness, of noise and helps preserve your hearing. Harmful sounds are those that are (1) too loud and last too long, or (2) are very loud and sudden.
You may encounter harmful sounds at work, at home, and/or during recreational activities. For example, exposure to a one-time intense “impulse” sound, such as an explosion, or by continuous exposure over an extended period of time, such as sitting too close in a concert—of any type of music.
Noise is dangerous if…
- you have to shout over background noise to be heard
- the noise is painful
- the noise makes your ears ring
- you have decreased or “muffled” hearing for several hours after exposure
The loudness of sounds is measured in units called decibels (dB). Noise-induced hearing loss can be caused by prolonged exposure to any loud noise over 85 dB.
- 60 dB: Normal conversations or dishwashers
- 80 dB: Alarm clocks
- 90 dB: Hair Dryers, blenders, and lawnmowers
- 100 dB: MP3 players at full volume
- 110 dB: Concerts, car racing, and sporting events
- 120dB: Jet planes at take off
- 130 dB: Ambulances
- 140 dB: Gun shots, fireworks, and custom car stereos at full volume
Protect your hearing by:
- Wearing hearing protection when around sounds louder than 85dB for a long period of time. Types of hearing protection include foam earplugs, earmuffs, and custom hearing protection devices.
- Turning down the volume when listening to the radio, TV, MP3 player, or anything through ear buds and headphones. (Visit TurnItToTheLeft.com)
- Walking away from the noise.
- And, other than hearing protection, do not put anything in your ear!
For more information about noise-induced hearing loss and hearing protection, contact Marin Hearing Center at (415) 927-1567.