By the age of 65, at least one out of every three people has suffered some level of hearing loss. Hearing loss can vary in range, from mild, moderate, severe, to profound. While some people are born with hearing loss, others develop it from things like exposure to loud noises on a daily basis.
Recent recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) insist that people can protect their hearing by limited their usage of audio devices.
How loud is too loud?
It is generally accepted that sounds that are above 85 decibels (dB) are harmful and likely to contribute to hearing loss over time. How long it will take for the hearing loss to develop depends on how loud the sound is and the duration of the exposure.
A normal conversation usually measures in at about 60 dB. By comparison, a lawn mower is around 90 dB, a school dance is between 101-105 dB, and a loud rock concert is over 120 dB. A good rule of thumb is that when you are experiencing any of the following, you are probably being exposed to a harmful level of sound:
· If you are having trouble hearing others and holding a conversation because of other sound levels.
· If you have ringing in your ears after hearing a sound.
· If your ears hurt after being exposed to a sound.
Repeated, prolonged exposure
While it is true that most hearing loss cases are not caused by a one-time exposure to average noises, repeated, prolonged exposure can definitely lead to it. According to figures from the United Nations health agency, about 1.1 billion young adults and teens are being exposed to unsafe levels of sound from their devices, sporting events, and other noisy activities.
For example, dance clubs typically have a noise level around 100 dB, which is not considered safe for longer than 15 minutes.
According to the WHO, everyone can take measures to prevent hearing loss by limiting their time spent engaged in noisy activities, and keeping their time spent with audio devices to less than one hour.
The European Commission stated that up to ten percent of people that listen to music at high volume levels for more than an hour a day are at a high risk for permanent hearing loss after more than five years of exposure.
“It is important to keep the volume low and to determine what is the safe listening level on one’s own device,” explained Dr. Shelly Chadha, technical officer for prevention of deafness and hearing loss for the WHO. “These are all preventative actions which can help to avoid the onset of hearing loss in an individual.”
Beyond the practice of limiting exposure to higher sound levels, there are other safety precautions you can take, particularly in a noisy workplace:
· Take frequent short breaks and maintain distance between yourself and the source of the sound.
· Wear hearing protectors such as earplugs or noise reducing headphones.
· Keep volumes at a lower level when you will have prolonged exposure.
· Get regular hearing check-ups to keep your ears in the best health, and to catch any potential issues early on.
-The Alternative Daily