Hearing loss is a gradual condition that slowly gets worse over time. The most common causes of hearing loss include aging and exposure to noise, only one of which you can do something about.
The best way to prevent or slow down hearing loss is to avoid exposure to dangerously loud noises.
Understanding Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Sounds are measured in decibels (db). Anything over 85 dB can damage the delicate hairs within your inner ear, leading to hearing loss. An easy way to determine if a sound you are exposed to may be causing damage to your hearing is to follow this list put together by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). Below are the average decibel ratings for some familiar sounds:
- Normal conversation: 60-70 dB.
- Movie theater: 74-104 dB.
- Motorcycle: 80-110 dB.
- Live sporting event: 94-110 dB.
- Sirens: 110-129 dB.
- Fireworks show: 140-160 dB.
Measure Your Environment
If you are spending the day cheering on Sacramento River Cats, chances are you are putting your ears at risk, as live sporting events measure anywhere from 94 to 110 dB. But what if you are somewhere less obviously loud?
There are a number of sound meter apps available to download to your smartphone. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health commissioned the development of a free app called Sound Level Meter. This app allows users to make informed decisions about their environment while promoting prevention efforts and better hearing health.
Protect Your Ears
Avoiding loud sounds is the best way to keep your ears healthy. If you cannot completely avoid all noise, wearing hearing proper protection is key.
Disposable earplugs are available at your local pharmacy. These inexpensive earplugs are usually made of foam and can be used a few times before needing to be replaced. Earplugs made of rubber or plastic are more durable but also more expensive.
Custom earplugs are created from a mold of your ears and are ideal for those who are regularly exposed to loud noises. This style of earplug offers a higher level of protection and a better fit than the disposable options. They are usually significantly more expensive.
Now is the time to do something to protect your hearing. To learn more or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, contact Elk Grove Hearing Care today.