Hearing is an important part of everyday life, yet most people don’t realise when they are damaging their ears. Causes of hearing loss include infections, ageing, and brain injury, but one of the most common is noise exposure. Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) can develop after one occurrence of extreme noise exposure or after listening to very loud sounds over time. Everyone has tiny hair cells in their inner ear (cochlea) that vibrate and send an electric signal to the auditory nerve, allowing you to hear. Different groups of hair cells interpret different sound frequencies. Over time, if enough of these hair cells are damaged or broken, hearing loss results.
Here are ranges of sounds you probably didn’t know could affect your hearing:
85 – 100 dB (It takes 6 to 8 hours before causing damage)
- Heavy traffic
- Window air conditioner (close to you)
- Noisy bar
- Hair dryer
- Squeeze toy (close to ear)
- Subway car (passing)
- Music player at max volume
110 – 180 dB (It takes one to 30 minutes before causing damage depending on level)
- Music concert (located near speakers)
- Emergency vehicle siren
- Balloon popping (close to ear)
- Rowdy stadium crowd
- Safety airbag
- Jet plane take off
How to prevent hearing damage
The simplest way to avoid developing noise-induced hearing loss is to pay attention to sound volume wherever you go. Listening to levels below 85 dB can help you preserve your hearing. If a sound is too loud, don’t stay around long enough for it to cause damage. When in doubt, you can always use hearing protection.
If you’re worried that you may have a hearing loss caused by noise exposure, you can contact one of our clinics for a free hearing test, we can also find out if you’re eligible for ACC, Veterans Affairs or Ministry of Heath funding.