Our hearing is a precious commodity. Sounds connect us to other people, memories, and activities we enjoy. Hearing enhances our life and learning experiences. To enjoy all the sounds of your life, properly caring for your ears is the best way to prevent hearing loss and protect your hearing.
Most Common Cause of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can happen to anyone who’s exposed to loud noises if the negative conditions are right. For the adolescent and baby boomer segments of the population, the most common cause of hearing loss is prolonged, chronic exposure to loud noises. This is called noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), and it’s permanent. If you listen to a loud noise for too long, it begins to damage the tiny nerve cells in your inner ear that are responsible for hearing.
Decibel Levels of Common Sounds
It helps to understand that the intensity of sound is measured in units called decibels (dB). Here’s a breakdown of a few common decibel levels for everyday noises:
- 0 dB: tiny rustle of a leaf
- 30 dB: quiet library
- 90 dB: lawnmower
- 115 dB: rock concert
- 140 dB: jet plane taking off
Ongoing exposure to sounds above 85 dB can cause permanent hearing loss over time. Even a one-time event such as a gunshot or explosion at close proximity can do lasting damage. The rule of thumb for unprotected ears is that the allowed exposure time decreases by one-half for each 5 dB increase in the sound. For instance, you can listen to a 90 dB sound for eight hours per day, a 95 dB sound for four hours per day and a 100 dB sound for two hours per day.
Three Tips to Protect your Hearing
Avoid Harmful Noise
Musical concerts and movies offer wonderful experiences, but can hurt your hearing. Consider wearing hearing protection if you are in a loud commercial, industrial, or recreational environment. Protect yourself whenever you’re firing guns or near people who are. Avoid loud rock concerts—or at least wear earplugs if you do attend.
Practice Healthy Lifestyle Habits
Making great lifestyle choices is great for your overall health and especially your hearing. This means refraining from smoking, eating well and exercising to ensure that your body stays in the best possible shape.
Get your hearing checked regularly
Some hearing problems can be treated if they’re caught early. Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor for a hearing test if you are feeling uncertain about your ability to hear. Or, visit any one of our Miracle-Ear locations for a free screening.