Every day, we experience some level of noise in our homes, workplaces, and on the streets — even forms of entertainment such as listening to music and watching television generate some level of noise. The sound levels are usually safe and do not damage our hearing. However, sounds can be harmful if they are too loud, whether it’s for short or prolonged periods.
According to studies, approximately 18% of American adults aged 18 years or older have trouble hearing. One of the most common causes of hearing problems in both children and adults is exposure to unhealthy levels of noise. There’s a need for individuals to take proactive measures and protect themselves from noise-induced hearing loss.
At The Hearing Center of Dublin ENT, we care about your hearing health and that of your loved ones. We provide solutions to help you prevent, treat, and manage hearing loss. Keep reading to learn more about noise-induced hearing loss, how to avoid it, and what to do if you already have hearing difficulties.
What is Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?
Noise-induced hearing loss is the loss of hearing that results from exposure to loud noises. It can result from short-term exposure to deafening noises such as explosions or gunshots or long-term exposure of unhealthily high levels of noise.
To understand what harmful noise is, it is essential to know what levels of noise are considered safe. The loudness of sound is measured in decibels (dB). According to the experts, any sound above 85 dB is harmful. Now, a normal conversation with a friend is around 60 dB. A gunshot is anywhere between 120 dB and 170 dB, and loud music from stereo headsets is about 100 dB.
When loud noises above 85 dB hit the ear, they damage sensitive parts of the inner ear. The damage can be temporary or permanent, and it can affect one or both ears. Whether the noise causes hearing damage depends on the loudness of the sound, the pitch, and the length of time you are exposed.
Causes of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Loud music, explosions, and gunshots are not the only potential sources of noise-induced hearing loss. Some factors that you expose yourself to daily can cause gradual damage to your hearing. These include the following:
- Noise from household equipment such as blenders, vacuum cleaners
- Loud noise from power tools like drills, chainsaws, and lawnmowers
- Playing in a band or attending loud concerts
Additionally, individuals who work in specific environments such as factories and processing manufacturing plants are susceptible to noise-induced hearing loss. This is primarily due to the exposure of loud noises from heavy machinery and equipment.
Factors such as gunshots and explosions expose one to a sudden and unexpected noise. This kind is dangerous as it can cause severe and permanent damage to the ear. On the other hand, other sounds such as those from loud music and power equipment cause gradual damage to the ear. You start developing mild hearing problems, and if not addressed, you may end up with a permanent hearing loss.
How to Protect Yourself from Hearing Loss
Anyone, whether a child or adult, can develop hearing loss if they’re exposed to loud noises. However, as one grows older, the risk of developing hearing problems increases. Thus, it is essential to protect yourself by employing the following tips:
1. Reduce Exposure to Harmful Noise
Now that you know what noise levels are healthy, you should protect yourself from the unhealthy kind. You can do this by limiting exposure to environments with loud sounds. Most smartphones today can download decibel reader apps. Use such apps to check the level of noise and determine whether it’s healthy for your ears.
2. Invest in Earplugs
Sometimes it may be hard to keep away from harmful noise. For example, if you work in a factory, you have no choice but to be around loud equipment. However, you can protect your hearing by investing in earplugs. Earplugs can muff up to 25 dB of sound and lower it to a healthy level. Use earplugs when using power equipment, riding a motorcycle, or using your vacuum cleaner at home.
3. Develop Healthy Entertainment Habits
Listening to loud music is a habit that you can easily break. Learn to keep your television and stereo systems within acceptable volume levels. Stick to the recommended music volume level on your smartphone. While this may be hard at first, you’ll find that your ears will quickly get accustomed to low volume.
4. Get Regular Hearing Checkups
At The Hearing Center of Dublin ENT, we advise that you get checked regularly for hearing problems. If you’re regularly exposed to loud noise, a simple visit to our ENT center can save you from permanent hearing problems. We will examine your ears for hearing damage and provide protective equipment if necessary.
Are You Suffering from Hearing Loss?
Most people don’t know they have a hearing problem until it’s too late. Some early signs of noise-induced hearing loss include the following:
- Tuning the TV sound higher
- Asking people to repeat what they said to you
- Problems hearing certain tones and pitches such as a telephone ringing
- Having trouble hearing in crowded areas
If you’re suffering from hearing loss, all is not lost. Our team at The Hearing Center of Dublin ENT is here to help you lead a healthy life. Some forms of hearing loss are reversible through the use of medication and shots. However, if you’ve suffered permanent damage, we provide lasting solutions as well.
When you first visit us, we will conduct a comprehensive examination of your ears to ascertain the problem. We will also perform a speech test, among other tests, to determine the severity of the hearing problem. After the diagnosis, we will advise on the best solution, which usually involves the use of hearing aids.
Our hearing aids are state-of-the-art devices designed to help you hear better and improve your independence and physical well-being. These devices are smart, unobtrusive, and can be custom-fitted to your ear. Our experts will work together with you to find the best device for you.
Visit Us for Your Hearing Care Solutions
No matter how careful you are, you may find yourself exposed to short-term or permanent hearing loss. Don’t wait for the problem to get out of hand. At The Hearing Center of Dublin ENT, we specialize in providing hearing care solutions for you and your family. Our expert audiologists will examine you and provide a tailor-made solution to improve your hearing health. Contact us today to schedule a consultation!