Now that vaccinations have rolled out, we’re beginning to get back to some of our favorite pre-pandemic activities. However, it’s important to know that some hobbies and activities can be harmful to your hearing. Below we review how loud noises cause damage and when you should take precautions to protect your hearing health.
What Is Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?
Noise-induced hearing loss is hearing loss caused by exposure to loud noises – either one very loud sound or ongoing/repeated exposure to moderately loud sounds.
Within the inner ear are tiny hair cells called stereocilia, which are responsible for converting sound vibrations into electrical energy that the brain interprets as sound. When dangerously loud sounds pass through the ears, it can damage or destroy the stereocilia. The result is permanent sensorineural hearing loss.
Any sound over 85 dB can cause this type of damage. For reference, below are common sounds and their decibel outputs:
- Normal conversation: 60-70 dB
- Movie theater: 74-104 dB
- Motorcycles and dirt bikes: 80-110 dB
- Music through headphones at max volume: 94-110 dB
- Sirens: 110-129 dB
- Fireworks show: 140-160 dB
What Activities Can Cause Damage?
Below are some common noisy activities and tips for how to protect yourself.
Hunting or Shooting
A single blast from a shotgun at the Pinetucky Gun Club is loud enough to cause permanent, irreversible damage to your auditory system. Make sure you and those around you always wear earmuffs when shooting a firearm. Hunter’s plugs are also available, which block dangerously loud sounds but allow safe sounds through.
Attending a Concert
Live music, from rock concerts to classical ones, can clock in between 112 and 127 dB – well beyond the threshold that is considered safe. If you’re standing near a speaker, it can be even louder. We recommend investing in a pair of musician’s plugs to protect your ears without sacrificing music quality.
Watching a Sporting Event
In 2014, the Kansas City Chiefs broke a Guinness World Record for loudest crowd roar at a sports stadium, clocking in at a whopping 142.2 dB. Be sure to always wear hearing protection at live sporting events. For more information about the types of hearing protection available or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, call Augusta ENT today.