When we think about spring time, a multitude of sounds come to mind. The soft chirping of birds are a sign that the long winter has come to an end. Spring showers cause tapping noises against windows and roofs. We are eager to mow our lawns and start home improvement projects using power tools. The soft springtime sounds can be missed by those with hearing loss, and there are sounds we also need to be aware of that may impact our hearing ability.
According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, 1 in 10 Americans has a hearing loss that affects his or her ability to understand normal speech. Although age-related hearing loss is the most common, exposure to excessive noise can damage hearing as well. It is important to recognize the noises around you and take necessary precautions to protect your ears.
How loud is too loud?
To avoid dangerous levels of sound, you first need to know what these levels are. Decibels (dB) is a measurement of sound intensity. The scale goes from 0 dB, softer than a whisper, to more than 180 dB, the noise of a rocket launch. It is recommended that you wear hearing protection at a noise level of 85 decibels. The louder the sound, the shorter time you can be exposed to it before noise induced hearing loss may occur.
Below are some decibel levels to keep in mind.
- Whisper - 30 dB
- Rain – 50 dB
- Normal conversation, computer typing, sewing machine - 60 dB
- Expressway traffic – 70 dB
- Lawnmower, shop tools, truck traffic - 85 to 90 dB
- Chainsaw, pneumatic drill, power saw – 100-110 dB
- Sandblasting, loud rock concert, auto horn - 115 dB
- Race car – 130 dB
- Fireworks, jet engine takeoff – 150 dB
- Shotgun – 170 dB
Tips for protecting your ears this season
Custom earplugs will provide the best protection as they are made specifically for you. The attenuation or reduction of harmful sound is achieved by sealing the ear but still providing sound you may require for communication. Their benefits also include comfort and improved sound quality with less volume when using an iPod or your smartphone, as well as keeping water out of your ears when swimming. You can purchase over-the-counter, disposable foam or silicone ear plugs at your local pharmacy, but be certain to find the right style and size to fit your ear.
Hearing protection is applicable to all ages and needed for many occupations as well as activities people are involved in. Visit one of the Hearing Doctors at Complete Hearing for your baseline hearing assessment, a determination of your hearing needs, and discuss your options for custom hearing protection.
The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery
Better Hearing Institute, Hearing Review, June 30, 2015