As October is National Protect Your Hearing Month, learn to protect yourself from noise induced hearing loss (NIHL).
Are you aware that many sounds around us have the potential to damage our hearing? As the loudness of sounds and time of exposure increase so does the potential for damage to the ear. For example, an every day sound such as a hair dryer can reach up to 90 dBA causing damage in just 10-15minutes. Sporting events can be even more detrimental as the level can reach95-100 dBA resulting in damage within 1-5 minutes. Here are some decibel levels for common sounds:
• Normal Conversation 60-70 dB
• Lawn Mower 80-105 dB
• Sporting Event 95-115 dB
• Sirens 110-129 dB
Repeated exposure to sounds over 85 dBA can lead to hearing loss. Loud sounds may permanently damage hearing. This process may be gradual or immediate. Additionally, loud noise has also been linked to tinnitus, a ringing, buzzing, or roaring sound in the head.
There are a two frequently used hearing protection devices – ear muffs and earplugs. These devices can assist in preventing hearing damage from exposure to loud noises. Hearing protection will not eliminate all sounds, rather they muffle and reduce the overall intensity of sounds.
Two types of earplugs are available. Disposable, affordable, instant fit earplugs can be purchased at your local pharmacy or home building center. Custom earplugs are reusable, custom fit protection, crafted at your local hearing office. Both types fit snuggly and securely in your ear canal.
Ear muffs are another common hearing protection device. Easy to use, ear muffs feature plastic cups fitted with sound dampening material such as foam. They fit comfortably over the ear and come in a variety of sizes.
During National Protect Your Hearing Month and each month, take simple steps to protect your hearing. Always practice safe listening by:
• Lowering the volume
• Move away from noise
• Wear hearing protection
Remember, anyone of any age can develop noiseinduced hearing loss (NIHL). According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Controland Prevention (CDC), over 40 million U.S. adults between the age of 20-69 haveNIHL. The good news? Hearing damage due to noise is completely preventable!