Preventing Hearing Loss

Hearing Protection is the most effective defense against hearing loss. Sound is measured in decibels (dB). Louder sounds result in higher decibel levels. A person is at higher risk for noise induced hearing loss when they are exposed to occupational or recreational noise, such as machinery, loud music, or gunfire for example. Noise induced hearing loss is second to aging for causes of hearing loss. Tinnitus (ear noise) is also associated with hearing loss due to noise exposure.

How loud is too loud?  Various sources quote different answers to this question. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) permits workers in manufacturing sites to be exposed to levels at or below 90 dB for 8 hours without ear protection worn. Anyone working in noise louder than 90 dB is required to wear ear protection.  

The World Health Organization has much different standards for children, that being 70 decibels. While children are not exposed to occupational noise like that of their parents, teens are being exposed to loud sounds from various personally worn electronic media devices, causing them to be at risk for hearing loss. Several studies conducted in 2006 show 12.5 percent of children have noise-induced hearing loss. These studies also showed that 25% of teens using MP3, iPods, or phones chose to listen at volume levels in excess of 85 dB.

Preventing hearing loss is as easy as:

  • Turning the volume down
  • Limiting the exposure time, taking a break
  • Using ear protection correctly and consistently

Ear protection is available in a variety of styles and sizes from disposable foam plugs to earmuffs. Ear protection can be designed specifically for musicians, sporting events, nightclub staff, and more. The cost of ear protection is priceless when considering noise exposure may result in a permanent hearing loss. Having your hearing tested periodically by an Audiologist lets you know how your ears are responding to noise and what type of ear protection is best suited for your occupational and recreational needs.

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