Approximately 48 million Americas have hearing loss. One in three develop their hearing loss as a result of exposure to noise. We are all exposed to noise. Background sound is a constant in our busy lives. So how loud is too loud? And how and when should we protect our hearing to prevent noise induced hearing loss?
Overview of noise-induced hearing loss:
Noise induced hearing loss is most often caused by damage to the hair cells that are found inside the cochlea of the inner ear. The hair cells are responsible for transducing mechanical energy into electrical energy, which is then transmitted to the brain for interpretation. If the hair cells are not functioning properly, our brain will not receive the needed input for hearing. Once damaged, the hair cells cannot grow back, causing permanent hearing loss.
What causes noise induced hearing loss?
- Continuous exposure to loud sounds over an extended period of time, such as noise in a woodworking shop
- One-time exposure to an intense “impulse” sound, such as an explosion
Your distance from the source of the sound and length of time you are exposed to it are important factors in protecting your hearing. It is a good idea to avoid noises that are too loud, too close or last too long.
It is important to know what sounds are safe and what sounds are potentially unsafe. This noise thermometer illustrates intensity levels of common sounds and their potential danger.
As mentioned above, the duration of exposure to sound can be an important factor in whether it is safe or unsafe. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) outlines maximum job-noise exposure allowed by law.
Maximum job-exposure allowed by law:
|Sound level, decibels||Duration, daily|
|115||15 minutes 0r less|
BASED ON OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY & HEALTH ADMINISTRATION 2008.
What can you do to prevent noise induced hearing loss?
The best way to prevent noise induced hearing loss is to avoid exposure to loud sounds. In reality, we all can’t avoid all noise. The next best way to prevent noise induced hearing loss is to wear hearing protection, such as earplugs or earmuffs, and to take breaks from noise when possible. Using hearing protection decreases the intensity, or loudness, of noise and helps preserve hearing.
Watauga Hearing offers the most innovative custom hearing protection products available. If you are interested in custom hearing protection, call Watauga Hearing at (423) 928-1901 for more information or to schedule an appointment.