The effects of noise on hearing vary among people. Some people's ears are more sensitive to loud sounds, especially at certain frequencies. (Frequency means how low or high a tone is.) But any sound that is loud enough and lasts long enough can damage hearing and lead to hearing loss.
A sound's loudness is measured in decibels (dB). Normal conversation is about 60 dB, a lawn mower is about 90 dB, and a loud rock concert is about 120 dB. In general, sounds above 85 are harmful, depending on how long and how often you are exposed to them and whether you wear hearing protection, such as earplugs or earmuffs.
As summer nears, Austin Hearing Center, Rk Audiology is warning the public to protect its hearing when exposed to loud outdoor sounds—from fireworks to lawn equipment to road equipment, blasting and gunfire, many of these are dangerous for hearing.
As temperatures increase across the country and more regions open up to outdoor shopping and dining, more Americans will be spending a greater amount of time outdoors. At the same time, the numbers of Americans facing hearing loss is at a record high and rising annually. Outdoor activities can pose a significant threat to hearing health. More than 40 million Americans have some type of hearing loss with approximately 10 million of those attributable to sound-induced hearing loss—exposure to loud sounds. Rk Audiology states that prolonged exposure to sounds above 85 decibels can damage hearing; louder sounds damage hearing in a shorter period of time.
Preventing damage to your hearing
An easy way to become aware of potentially harmful noise is to pay attention to warning signs that a sound might be damaging to your hearing. A sound may be harmful if:
• You have difficulty talking or hearing others talk over the sound.
• The sound makes your ears hurt.
• Your ears are ringing after hearing the sound.
• Other sounds seem muffled after you leave an area where there is a loud sound.
Most cases of noise-induced hearing loss are caused by repeated exposure to moderate levels of noise over many years, not by a few cases of very loud noise. Wearing hearing protectors can help prevent damage from both moderate and loud noise.
If your workplace has harmful noise levels, plan ahead and wear hearing protection. People who may be regularly exposed to harmful noise because of their jobs include:
• Those who work with loud machines, vehicles, or power tools, such as construction workers, factory workers, farmers, truck drivers, mechanics, or airport ground crew workers.
• Military personnel.
• Police officers and firefighters.