Hearing Loss Prevention
What is noise-induced hearing loss?
Noise-induced hearing loss is hearing loss caused by either exposure to a loud impulse sound like a gunshot or explosion, or prolonged exposure to elevated levels of noise. It can happen immediately or gradually over time.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 40 million US adults have noise-induced hearing loss, which is preventable.
Noises below 75 decibels (dB), are unlikely to cause hearing loss. Sounds 85 dB and above can.
What are decibels?
Decibels (dB) measure the intensity of sound: from 0 dB, which is the faintest sound the human ear can detect, to the noise of a rocket during launch, which can exceed 180 dB.
Experts typically consider exposure to more than 85 dB to be dangerous, which means things like motorcycles, headphones and lawnmowers have potential to lead to permanent hearing loss.
How to protect yourself from hearing loss caused by noise:
- If the environment’s sound level exceeds 85 dB, reduce the noise level or wear hearing protection.
- Lower the volume of your television and radio. Take exceptional care if you use headphones or earbuds.
- Be careful not to turn up your car stereo volume too loudly to compensate for noise from the engine or the wind.
- Wear custom noise filters or solid earplugs if you go to rock concerts or nightclubs, and don’t stand near loud speakers.
- Wear noise-cancelling headphones or solid earplugs if you use noisy equipment such as drills, lawnmowers, etc.
Avoid damage from foreign objects:
- Don’t use cotton swabs to clean your ears. Doing so may push wax down onto your eardrum and can increase the production of wax and/or damage the eardrum.
- Avoid washing with unclean water to prevent ear infections.