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Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Almost everyone experiences hearing loss as they get older, but what a lot of people don’t know is that there are some very common activities that can actually cause further damage through noise induced hearing loss, and speed up the process of age related hearing loss. Loud noises can destroy the hair cells in our inner ears, and they don’t regenerate. Approximately 17% of adults aged 20-69 have suffered permanent damage to their hearing due to excessive noise. The louder the sound, the quicker the damage is done. For example, if you are in close range to an explosion or a gunfire, it could cause immediate and irreversible damage.

The best way to prevent or reduce the risk of hearing loss is to limit or eliminate your exposure to excessive noise. However, it is not that simple to just avoid all excessive noises. Sometimes, these noises are part of everyday life. Therefore, a good way to limit this exposure is by wearing noise protection plugs, or by trying to reduce the length of time you are exposed to a certain noise. Noises measuring at 80 to 85dB can start to harm hair cells after approximately two hours.

Common Activities That Damage Hearing…

  1. Hunting or shooting (140-175dB) – A single gunshot could cause immediate hearing loss, so it is highly recommended that gun protection plugs are worn when in this environment.
  2. Attending live music (110-130dB) – No matter the genre of music, frequently attending live music events can gradually damage your hearing. This is why many musicians suffer with hearing loss.
  3. Using a lawn mower/leaf blower (85-100dB) – This very common activity measures in at the threshold for hearing damage, so frequent or prolonged use can start to damage our hearing. It is even more damaging to listen to music through headphones whilst you use the lawnmower/leaf blower, because you will be inclined to turn it up to the maximum level in order to drown out the other sounds.
  4. Listening to music/podcasts etc. through headphones (up to 110dB) – As mentioned above, listening to music or podcasts etc. through headphones at the highest volume (usually 110dB) can damage your hearing in just 5 minutes. This risk is increased even further when using earbuds, because the noise is being directed straight into the ear canal and to the eardrum. The general rule of thumb is that if the person next to you can hear the music from your headphones, it is loud enough to damage your hearing.
  5. DIY (90-112dB) – Many adults who enjoy woodwork and DIY home improvements do not realise the effect power tools can have on our hearing. A typical circular saw can cause damgage to our hearing after just 1 minute without noise protection, and other tools such as sanders can take a toll on our hearing over time.
  6. Motorcycle riding or boating (80-100dB) – A motorcycle engine is about 95dB whereas a speed boat is approximately 100dB, and the wind noise that occurs when moving at high speeds can add to this damage. When riding a motorcycle specifically, it is recommended to find noise protection plugs that still allow you to hear police or ambulance sirens, horns, and other important road sounds.

Protecting Against Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Overall, it is extremely difficult to completely avoid the exposure to some of these common sounds. So the best way to protect your hearing is to limit the exposure time as best you can, and to wear noise protection plugs. Whilst general foam plugs can help to reduce some of the noise, the best solution if you find yourself frequently exposed to loud noises is to invest in some custom noise protection plugs made specifically for you.

If this is something you think you could benefit from and you would like to start protecting your hearing, call us today on 01223 360700 or click here for more information on our custom noise protection services.