If there’s a month-long recognition for something, you know it’s meaningful. National Protect Your Hearing Month is acknowledged at a national level every October. Hearing is an essential part of our daily lives.
Healthy hearing helps us maintain our physical health, cognitive health, emotional health, and overall quality of life. Having an easier time communicating with others, enjoying their company and laughter, listening to music, TV, your favorite podcast, or hearing sounds in nature improves each aspect of your life.
Protecting your hearing with earplugs, being careful of loud and lengthy noise exposure, and practicing healthy physical and mental exercises can improve your hearing health.
Hearing Protection and Noise-induced Hearing Loss
The only type of preventable hearing loss is noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). It’s the second most common cause of hearing loss. The most common type of hearing loss is presbycusis (age-related hearing loss). NIHL occurs when loud noises impact the nerve endings in the inner ear, leading to damaged nerves. Temporary or permanent hearing damage may occur.
The CDC estimates that about 40 million adults in the U.S. between the ages of 20-69 experience NIHL. One in four individuals who report good hearing has damage to their hearing.
Earplugs (as mentioned above) can be customized or come in a standard shape and size. Earmuffs donned over the ears can protect hearing from noises that reach at least 70 decibels (dB). It just takes 70 dB to affect your hearing health.
Here are some examples of noises that are about 70 dB:
How to Measure Noise Levels
Using a decibel meter app to measure noise levels in places you frequent is a way to protect potential hearing loss and take proper preventive care. NIHL is permanent, so preventing possible exposure is vital to your hearing health.
Regularly measuring noise levels in areas you frequent, like at home or in your work environment, can help you gauge what’s normal and what’s not normal. If you visit a sports arena or go to a concert, you’ll want to measure the noise levels as they tend to exceed the recommended limits.
The 70-Decibel Limit
Moderate noise is 70 dB since it’s under the 85 dB threshold that can damage a human’s ears.
The 70-dB limit is also the upper limit that the EPA recommends during a 24-hour average noise level exposure. Hearing loss can occur from prolonged exposure to this noise level.
If you hear noise levels that go beyond 70 dB for a short period, take a break from that noise by going to a quieter place for as long as you need. Your ears must recuperate from the noise exposure to prevent temporary or permanent harm.
Average Noises and their Decibel Levels
20 dB - Rustling leaves
40 dB - Human whisper
60 dB - Normal conversation
85 dB - Heavy city traffic noises
90 dB - Hairdryer
100 dB - MP3 player at the highest volume
110 dB - A rock concert
120 dB - A plane getting ready to ascend during take-off
140 dB - Gunshots and fireworks
If employees are regularly exposed to noises over 80-85 dB for 8 hours, employers must provide hearing protection to their workers.
In public spaces, there are no clearly defined noise limits. The safest noise level in any setting is a maximum level of 70 dB for over 24 hours.
Simple Solutions to Protect Hearing
Avoid excessive noise exposure by avoiding loud environments, wearing earplugs/ear muffs, and keeping the volume within low or moderate ranges on personal devices.
If you or a loved one experiences hearing loss, contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a hearing test and consultation.