logo for wingfieldaudio.com
LEFT for wingfieldaudio.com

Protect Your Hearing!

How's your hearing? Ever notice a bit of ringing in your ears? Does it seem like a lot of people mumble? Do you ever nod to pretend to understand people when you can barely hear a word they say?

If you answered yes to most of these questions, you could benefit from a hearing test. Many people don't think twice about getting their eyes examined on a regular basis, but they often neglect to take care of their ears.

  • Protect your ears from sounds louder than 80 decibels.

  • Limit 91 dB sounds to no more than 2 hours.

  • Limit 100dB sounds to no more than 15 minutes.

  • Limit 120 dB sounds to no more than 9 seconds.
Note: These limits are for healthy adults.
They may be too high for children.
How Loud Is Too Loud?
Decibels Sounds
20 Watch ticking
30 Whispering
40 Leaves rustling, refrigerator humming
50 Neighborhood street, average home
60 Dishwasher, normal conversation
70 Car, alarm clock, city traffic
80 Garbage disposal, noisy restaurant, vacuum cleaner, outboard motor, hair dryer
85 Factory, screaming child, portable stereo at high volume
90 Power lawn mower, highway driving in a convertible
100 Diesel Truck, subway train (outside, not as a passenger), chain saw
120 Rock concert, propeller plane, portable stereos on maximum volume
130 Jet plane (100 feet away), air-raid siren
140 Shotgun blast, explosion

About Hearing Loss

Hearing ability decreases with age. Men's hearing deteriorates slightly more than women’s. The hearing of white people gets worse than that of blacks or Hispanics.

Although hearing loss is thought of as a condition that typically strikes seniors, more Americans are experiencing difficulties with hearing loss at an earlier age.

Many baby boomers who blasted the rock 'n' roll years ago are experiencing the effects of that damage now.

About half of baby boomers report at least "mild" hearing loss.

It Affects Young People Too

Hearing loss has increased among grade school students.

In a 2006 survey commissioned by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), more than half of high school students had symptoms of hearing loss, such as ringing in the ears and trouble following conversations.

13% of the high school students said they set the volume of their MP3 players very loud, a habit that may lead to permanent hearing loss.

Causes of Hearing Loss

The cause of nearly one-third of all cases of hearing loss is entirely avoidable: routine exposure to very loud noise.

Jackhammers, lawn mowers, and airplanes are obvious sources, but commonplace gadgets like hair dryers, power tools and portable music players are also problems.

Loud noise degrades sensory cells in the ear
- cells that don’t grow back.

At first, the hearing loss may only be temporary, with hearing returning to normal after several hours or days.

But if exposure occurs repeatedly, the ears will eventually lose their ability to bounce back, resulting in permanent hearing loss.

If you think it's too loud, it probably is.

We are often fooled by volume. Our ears perceive and adapt to loudness by comparing different sound intensities.

Factors such as fatigue, alcohol consumption, attention, sound quality, acoustics and background noise can affect our perception of a sound.

As we lose hearing, our ear's ability to sense loudness diminishes. By the time we notice a problem with our hearing, the damage may have already begun.

Occupational Hazard

Professional musicians are in a particularly difficult position. They rely upon their ears for their livelihood, yet doing so often means putting their hearing at risk.

For many musicians, ringing in the ears - also known as tinnitus - can be considered a repetitive strain injury, much like carpal tunnel syndrome is for people who type at the computer keyboard all day.

Protect Yourself From Noise! Hearing Loss Prevention Tips:

  • Wear noise-cancelling headphones or ear plugs when exposed to any potentially damaging noise at work, in your community (heavy traffic, concerts, hunting, etc.) or at home (mowing the lawn, snow-blowing the driveway). This protection can be found at drug stores and sporting good stores or can be custom-made.

  • Limit periods of exposure to noise. Don't sit next to speakers at concerts, clubs or auditoriums. If you're at a rock concert, walk out for a while to give your ears a break.

  • Turn down the volume! When using stereo headsets or listening to music in the car, turn down the volume. If a friend can hear the music from your headset when standing 3 feet away, the volume is definitely too loud.

  • Be a smart consumer. Look for a noise rating when buying recreational equipment, kid's toys, household appliances, and power tools. Choose quieter models, especially for equipment you use often, like a hair dryer. If there is no noise rating, ask the manufacturer for one.

  • Get a hearing test. For more information or tips on finding an ASHA-certifeid audiologist in your area, go to www.asha.org.


The following sources were used in the preparation of this article:
"Hearing Loss: A Guide to Prevention and Treatment" by Harvard Health Publications and
H.E.A.R. - Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers, www.hearnet.com