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Approximately 50 million Americans have hearing loss. Common causes of hearing loss include an illness, injury, or age-related hearing loss. Everyday noises can also cause permanent hearing loss. These are just some of the everyday sounds that could lead to hearing loss.
Types of Hearing Loss
There are two main types of hearing loss.
- Conductive hearing loss is caused by an issue in your outer or middle ear. For example, you may have a mechanical issue where the bones in the middle ear don’t move correctly and do not transmit sound waves to the inner ear. A blockage in the ear canal or a perforated eardrum can also cause conductive hearing loss.
- Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the inner ear. Both age-related hearing loss and noise-induced hearing loss are types of sensorineural hearing loss. When the cells in the inner ear are damaged, they can’t translate sound waves into electrical signals. The brain doesn’t get a full picture of the sounds around you, and you will experience hearing loss.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
So how can noise cause hearing loss? Excessive noise creates large sound waves that can damage the delicate cells in the inner ear.
- Extremely loud noise can damage your ears in just a few seconds. When sounds are over 120 decibels (dB), hearing loss can happen in moments.
- Prolonged exposure to moderately loud noise can also cause hearing loss. If you spend all day working on a noisy job site that’s louder than 85 dB, you can experience hearing loss in just one day.
- Everyday exposure to loud noise can lead to noise-induced hearing loss over time. If you spend a few hours in noise over 85 dB every week, you will slowly damage your hearing health.
Everyday Noises That Are Far Too Loud
Any noise that’s over 85 dB is considered too loud. So what counts as excessively loud noise?
- Fireworks and gunshots (120-140 dB). These sounds can cause hearing loss in under a minute.
- Heavy machinery and power tools (110-120 dB). If you work on a very loud job site, you risk hearing loss in under an hour.
- Music concert or sports stadium (100-115 dB). You can damage your hearing in under an hour.
- Motorcycle, lawnmower, city traffic (90-100 dB). If you’re exposed to these sounds for several hours, you may experience hearing loss. Continued exposure over days and weeks will lead to hearing loss.
Other everyday sounds that can cause hearing loss include:
- Leaf blower
- Subway train
- Garbage truck
- Noisy restaurant or bar
- Home appliances like a blender
- A noisy vacuum cleaner
- A movie theater
- Loud music in an exercise class
- Home stereo on full volume
- A personal listening device on full volume
Wearing Hearing Protection
Are you exposed to these dangerously loud sounds daily? These everyday noises could cause hearing loss! The good news is that noise-induced hearing loss is preventable. By wearing the right hearing protection, you can protect your ears and maintain your hearing health.
To protect your ears from moderately loud sounds, foam or wax earplugs can provide protection. Make sure you have earplugs that fit your ears and ensure that you’re wearing them correctly.
To protect your ears from extremely loud noise, wear earmuffs. These provide more protection by creating a seal around your entire ear.
Finally, digital hearing protection can protect your hearing from loud sounds while still allowing you to hear soft sounds. If you’re attending a concert, working in a bar, or going hunting, digital hearing aids have you covered. They’ll block dangerously loud sounds, but still, let you hear soft sounds clearly.
Treating Hearing Loss
Have you noticed changes in your hearing? Many adults are slow to admit that they have a hearing loss and live with untreated hearing loss for up to 7 years before seeking treatment! During this time, your hearing gets worse, and you’ll notice how your hearing loss affects your relationships. Communication breaks down, and you may have a hard time connecting with loved ones.
Don’t ignore your hearing health and don’t miss out on any more special moments with your family. Visit us today for a hearing test, and find out how you can treat your hearing loss today.