Our Loud World

While there are many causes of hearing loss, that which is caused or worsened by noise exposure is one of the most preventable. 

A decibel (dB) is a measure of sound. Sound is measured based on a scale. The lowest possible sound a human being can hear is measured at 0 dB, and the upper threshold for the human ear is 140 dB.

The sound of a falling leaf is about 10 dB.  40 dB is the sound of your living room when it’s quiet. 75 dB is the sound of a busy restaurant during lunch time. Rock concerts typically register at 110 dB.

Anytime we are exposed to sounds over 85 dB, we are causing damage to the delicate structures of our inner ear. The louder the sound, the less time it takes for us to do serious damage. Eight hours of sounds over 90 dB can cause permanent damage. 

But how loud is our world on an every day basis? There are several apps for your smartphone out there that measure the decibel levels in various surroundings. One app you can try is the Decibel 10 app. We decided it take it around during our everyday lives to see exactly how loud things can be.

Decibel levels in an office building in downtown Lincoln typically hover around 60 dB. We then decided to listen to some music on the computer which brought the sound level up to 65 dB. Later in the afternoon, a stroll outside found the traffic in downtown Lincoln to vary from 80-90 dB. (Can you imagine working outdoors for 8 hours a day or in road construction?) The Mill, a coffee shop in the Haymarket, recorded decibel levels between 65-70 dB with only 20 people in side. Let’s not forget Memorial Stadium. Decibel levels can run well over 111 dB during an average game.

According to the American Speech Language and Hearing Association, noises at a level of 100 dB without protection can damage your hearing after just 15 minutes.  

It is vital to protect your hearing when exposed to excessive noise. Ask one of our doctors if the noise levels in your life could be damaging your hearing and what type of hearing protection is best suited for your needs.