Latest posts by Leanne E. Polhill, LHAS, BC-HIS, BA (see all)
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As waves of lawsuits and millions of pounds of compensation has shown, we certainly don’t tolerate loud noises in the workplace anymore. The same however, cannot be said for our leisure activities. Indeed, noise from everyday leisure activities are fast becoming the chief cause of noise-induced hearing loss.
The problem with this kind of hearing loss is that it takes a long time to show up, and no surgery currently exists to correct it. That’s why we have take appropriate measures to protect ourselves from all kinds of potentially damaging noise, wherever we find it.
How can I tell if sounds are too loud?
Noise levels are measured in dB(A), a decibel scale which shows the different levels and pitches of sound and the effects it has on the individual. The louder the sound, the less time one can be exposed to it before it becomes damaging. There are many sources of sound around us that register high up in the decibel scale, and could damage our hearing if we don’t take any steps to protect ourselves.
Here is a list of everyday noises that could case hearing loss.
1. Using earphones in your smartphone at maximum volume
At maximum volume and using earphones, music from a smartphone can go up to 105dB, which is as loud as a sporting event at top volume. Listening to just one song at this volume can cause hearing damage.
At the risk of sounding like your mother, we advise you to turn it down. As we only have a certain ‘sound allowance’ a day before hearing damage occurs, listening at higher volumes will reduce this allocation quickly. A good rule of thumb is the ‘60-60 rule’: Refrain from listening at more than 60% of the volume for longer than 60 minutes at a time, and take regular breaks after each hour.
It might also be worth investing in nose cancelling headphones. Most people listen to headphones at a high volume in order to “drown out” sounds around them. By using active noise cancelling, the sounds around you are diminished which means you wont have to turn up the volume so much to compensate.
2. Music festivals
Are you going to a music festival this summer? Speakers at music festivals can be taller than a house, so it goes without saying that they are pretty loud. The nearer you are to the speakers at a concert or music festival, the greater the risk of damaging your hearing. If you are at the front, it can only take 7 seconds of exposure before damage can occur. That’s not even enough time to sing along to one chorus.
The easiest way to avoid hearing damage at festivals is to wear hearing protection, such as earplugs. Festivals are beginning to give these away for free, but it’s better to buy custom fitted plugs. These have a range of filters designed to reduce the volume of the music but also keeping your ability to hear your friends and music.
You can also limit your exposure by taking ‘sound breaks’. You could take a walk away from the main stage after particularly noisy set. If you’re staying at the festival overnight, you can always go back to the tent for some quiet time.
3. Sports events
Your local sports team’s cheering can inspire an extraordinary surge of adrenaline in you, and it definitely is one of the best things about going to live games. But this cheering can bring with it the threat of hearing loss. Sitting next to loud fans can be a noisy experience and if you are a season ticket holder, hearing damage can happen earlier than you think.
Similar to the advice given for music festivals, it’s advised that you bring hearing protection along with you to the next game. Even a cheap pair of foam earplugs from the drug store is better than nothing. They wont be able to block out all the noise from 25,000 fans, but they will go a long way towards protecting your hearing for the next game.
4. Recreational sports
Although heaps of fun, shooting, motorcycling and windsurfing are very noisy activities. Your ears really need to be protected if you do these sports on a regular basis. Motorcyclists and wind surfers are exposed to high levels of wind into their ears, which contributes greatly to increased noise levels.
We advise double protection for shooters. That means the use of earplugs as well as over the ear hearing protection. Motorcyclists will benefit from custom-molded designed earplugs that filter out noise and fit easily under a helmet.
Recreational noise exposure can cause hearing loss in anyone, regardless of their age. To find out if you’re affected or to learn more about custom hearing protection, don’t hesitate to book a consultation with us at Encore Hearing!