Monitoring Your Daily Exposure to Noise

Monitoring Your Daily Exposure to Noise

It’s a noisy world out there and the way things keep going it just keeps getting louder. There is more traffic construction, constant loud music around commercial venues, fans, generators, compressors, and mills. Even in your own home and those of your neighbor’s television sets boom, music blasts from stereos, while vacuum cleaners, fans, and coolers, washing machines, dishwashers, lawnmowers roar throughout the day. While you may become used to these sounds within your daily environments it doesn’t mean they aren’t hurting your hearing.

Noise Induce Hearing Loss

One of the most common causes of hearing loss is exposure to loud noise. While hearing loss is often a condition associated with advanced age, due to noise exposure, everyone is at risk. In fact, according to the Hearing Health Foundation reports that 50% of people ages 12-35 could be exposed to unsafe noise from personal listening devices while 40% of people ages 12-35 could be exposed to potentially damaging levels of sound at entertainment venues. 

Occupational Hearing Hazards

Meanwhile one of the most dangerous sources of noise induced hearing loss occurs in the workplace, which many people attend 5 days a week for 8 hours or more daily, year after year. The Hearing Health Foundation estimates that 30 million people in the U.S. are exposed to hazardous noise levels in the workplace. Due to the nature of noise induce hearing loss working environments often leave people with lasting significant hearing damage. 

The Dangers of Unaddressed Hearing Loss

Many people underestimate the danger of hearing loss. At first it starts as just misunderstandings every now and then but can over time start to erode the quality and closeness of your most important relationships. In place of intimacy and belonging often comes feelings of insufficiency, depression, social anxiety, and loneliness, even among your closest people.

Damaging Decibels

The intensity or volume of sound is measured using decibels. The human ear can listen to sounds safely indefinitely for 8 hours or more, however, even at 70 dB noise pollution has been found to induce anxiety which releases cortisol – the stress hormone. When a person is constantly releasing cortisol due to noise pollution it has been linked to digestive problems, headaches, muscle tension, heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, sleep issues and concentration impairments.

However once sound surpasses 85 dB it can cause vibrations within the inner ear loud enough the shatter the tiny cells in the inner ear responsible for sending sound to the brain. Within the inner ear is the cochlea which houses these tiny cells called stereocilia. When the stereocilia become damaged certain sounds become dampened and hard to perceive. This contributes to brain strain and listening fatigue. What is important to understand however, is that the louder the sound, the quicker damage to hearing can occur. At 85 dB it takes 8 hours of constant exposure for your hearing to become at risk. However, at ten decibels higher of 95 dB, the risk for damage begins in around 50 minuets. Meanwhile certain everyday sounds such as headphones can reach levels as high as 100 dB which has the potential to damage hearing in under 15 minuets! To better understand decibel levels in relation to sounds we encounter daily here is a rough chart:

–          0dB: silence

–          30dB: whispering

–          60dB: average conversation

–          80dB: city traffic at a distance, vacuum cleaner

–          100dB: power equipment (hand drill, lawnmower)

–          120: airplane takeoff

–          130dB: amplified concert

Monitoring Daily Exposure

It’s up to you to monitor the decibel levels in your daily routine. Today most any Smartphone has free Apps available for download which can measure the average decibel level in the spaces you encounter. Any time you read a decibel level average over 85dB it’s time to take precautions for your hearing health.

 Protect Your Hearing Health

When you can wear protective earplugs or earmuffs. However, sometimes you can simply turn down the volume or step away from a noise to lower the decibel volume. Other times taking listening breaks can give your ears a chance to recover. If you do suspect you have hearing damage due to loud noise, it’s always a good idea to schedule a hearing exam. Take control of your hearing health now and schedule an appointment with us today.