Sound Advice

Listen up! Loud sounds can damage your hearing. Follow these tips to reduce your risk

From the LifeMinute.TV Team

May 31, 2023

Inside your ear are thousands of tiny hair cells that help you hear. Over time, loud noise can damage those cells. They cannot be repaired, whether a result of a roaring burst of sound or years of repeated exposure. If there’s so much noise around you that you need to raise your voice when just a few feet away from someone, it’s likely hurting your hearing.

Sounds are measured in decibels. Sounds at or below 70 decibels are considered generally safe. Normal conversation is about 60 to 70 decibels. A single loud or long noise or repeated exposure to sounds at or exceeding 85 decibels can cause hearing loss or other hearing issues like tinnitus.

Sources of loud noise include lawnmowers (80-110 decibels), an approaching subway train (100 decibels), live entertainment venues, such as a baseball game or concert, or listening to music on headphones at a maximum volume (95-115 decibels), and a siren (110-129 decibels).

Approximately 37.5 million American adults aged 18 and older report some trouble hearing, and the risk increases as we age.

Here are some things to consider to preserve your hearing.

If you are watching TV, the sound should be loud enough that you don’t need to strain to hear. If the noise is so loud that when you leave the room, it can still be heard from another part of your home, it’s probably too loud.

Practice the 60/60 Rule
With a music device, keep it at no more than 60% of the maximum volume, then give your ears a break from your headphones after 60 minutes of listening. This is called the 60/60 rule. The first 60 is for 60 percent of the maximum volume. Noise-canceling headphones are also a good option. They block out environmental sounds, allowing you to hear audio more clearly, thus reducing your temptation to crank up the volume.

If you anticipate being in noisy surroundings, wear earplugs. The soft, formable foam ones are a good option.

Pre-molded hi-fi earplugs are made from plastic, rubber, or silicone. They have the same effect as turning down the volume on a stereo. They can be helpful at movies or concerts when you want to appreciate the audio quality while protecting your hearing.

Protective earmuffs are another option. These aren’t the soft earmuffs worn during the cold winter months. They are padded plastic and foam cups joined by an adjustable headband. They reduce noise by completely covering both ears. They’re good at protecting kids from loud noise too.

Check It Out
At your next physical or routine checkup, request a hearing test. It should be conducted by an audiologist, someone skilled at identifying symptoms of hearing loss and can help treat and prevent auditory, balance, and related sensory disorders. The results will also provide a baseline to check progression in the future.

If you are experiencing significant hearing loss, ask about hearing aid options. Many discrete choices are available, even some you can control through your smartphone.

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