When people think of hearing loss, they often believe it only affects seniors. But did you know that approximately 26 million Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 suffer from some form of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?
Depending on a combination of factors including the intensity, frequency and duration of a noise, sound has the capability to damage our hearing.
How Does Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) Happen?
Sudden hearing loss can occur from exposure to one very high level of sound, such as an explosion. Even though exposure may only last a brief amount of time, temporary or permanent damage is possible.
In most cases, damage will occur over time. Sounds less than 75 decibels will not cause hearing loss, but anything over 85 decibels may be harmful to our ears. Decibel levels for common environmental sounds include:
10 decibels – a pin drop
60 decibels – humans talking
80 decibels – an alarm clock
105 decibels – a crowd at a sporting event
115 decibels – an ambulance siren
145 decibels – an exploding firecracker
160 decibels – a shotgun firing
The extent of damage that is caused by noises above 85 decibels depends on how long the noise is present and how close you are to the source of the noise.
Three Common Causes of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
NIHL can occur during your everyday life and you may not even know it. You may find yourself in situations where there is a lot of noise, but you get used to it. But just because your ears have adapted to the sound, doesn’t mean that damage isn’t occurring.
Music & Events. At 120 – 130 decibels, concerts and sports games have the ability to really impact your ears. In most cases, you’ll be exposed to loud noise at these events for several hours.
Yard Work. Commonly used tools such as lawnmowers, leaf blowers and chainsaws, cause your ears endure around 110 decibels of noise for anywhere between 15 minutes to a few hours.
Driving on a Busy Road. This location may be surprising, but loud music, car horns and sirens can hurt your ears, especially if you have your windows open. Even passing trains can affect your hearing with their horn reaching 145 to 175 decibels.
How is NIHL Diagnosed and Treated?
If you notice that your hearing isn’t as good as it used to be, don’t panic. It could be caused by impacted ear wax or an ear infection. An experienced Ear Nose and Throat doctor will perform several tests to determine what is causing the issue.
If hearing loss does occur, it can be treated, but not completely cured. Your doctor will be able to offer suggestions to prevent further hearing loss and may fit you with a hearing aid if necessary.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Oliver, please call (912) 355-2335.