According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in four people ages 60 and older have a hearing loss and by the time they reach 65 this number has jumped to one in three! As life expectancy increases due to advancements in medical technology, the number of people with hearing loss worldwide continues to expand. In fact, by 2050 the number worldwide is expected to nearly double to a staggering 900 million if understandings around prevention aren’t more widely taken into action on a institutional and personal level.
One common misconception is that despite the prevalence of hearing loss as we age, it can happen at any time due to many factors such as certain medications, air pollution, impact to the head or infection. However, one of the greatest risks to our hearing is noise, which is around us everywhere we go. With the continued expansion and development of technology and industry also comes a louder world. It may surprise you some of the sounds around us that put our hearing at risk every day!
Noise Induced Hearing Loss
The loudness of sound is measured in decibels (dBA). While we can listen to sounds under a safe listening threshold indefinitely, once sounds pass this limit it can cause vibrations loud enough to damage the tiny cells of our inner ear. Once these cells are damaged it can interrupt sound reaching our brain, leaving us with irreversible hearing loss.
It’s important to understand that its’ not just the level of sound but the length of exposure. For instance, the threshold for safe listening ends at an exposure of 85 dBA for eight hours or more, however for every increase of three decibels the time for exposure is cut in half. For instance at 88 dBA, it only takes four hours and 91dBA it only takes 2 hours. Once you start to measure the decibel levels in your life, it’s no surprise at the risk our ears face every day from everyday sounds. Here are just a few:
At the height of the pandemic, while many of us may have felt under socialized, at least our ears got a break. Large gatherings of people mean a lot more noise. One conversation is around 60 dBA however in a crowded room with many conversations happening at once the decibel level can quickly turn into a cacophony of sound. Add live music into the mix and you’ll find yourself yelling just to hear yourself speak. As a general rule, if you have to yell to feel like someone can hear you standing three feet away, the decibel level is loud enough to damage your hearing. Live concerts can emit sounds ranging from 110 to 130 decibels, which surprisingly includes classical music performaces as well!
Athletic events are another perfect storm for noise induce hearing loss. Put a large group of people in a closed space where they all cheer as loud as they can, as they rival loudspeakers announcing the action and blasting music while hotdog and popcorn vendors shout for sales! It’s no surprise that this type of environment could leave you with ringing ears and lifelong hearing loss. Professional baseball and football games can emit noises ranging from 90 to 140 decibels. The loudest recorded sound level from a game came from a 2014 Kansas City Chiefs game which reached 142.2 decibels, loud enough to cause permanent hearing damage in moments!
DIY Home Renovations
It saves money and gives you valuable skills to complete home renovations yourself, but be mindful of the professional’s personal protection equipment (PPE) as well. With the use of industrial saws, hammers, and sanders sounds can reach an average between 90 to 112 decibels. Make sure to wear hearing protection along with the rest of the safety gear every time you go to work!
Gas-powered lawn equipment
Not only are you making your yard nice, but it’s a chance to get your steps in as well. It’s relaxing for many to mow, leaf blow and weed whack their yard, but be mindful of the dangerous decibels that come from these gas-powered machines ranging from 80 to 100 decibels. You may think blasting tunes through headphones while mowing the lawn will motivate you, but often the level you need to turn up the sound is enough to cause permanent hearing damage in 15 minutes or less!
Address Hearing Loss
It’s important to wear hearing protection any time you may be exposed to sounds but even with your best intentions, mistakes happen, leaving you with hearing loss. Take this seriously. When you address a hearing loss early you can improve your health and quality of life as you age. Contact us today to take the steps to improve your future now, by scheduling a hearing exam.