Hearing is one of our body’s connections to the world. It allows us to connect to the people in our lives, from loved ones to professional relationships. Communication is the cornerstone of many relationships, so when hearing loss develops it can start to create distance in all social aspects of your life. Most people take hearing and its ability to connect for granted until it starts to erode. Often because hearing loss occurs gradually it’s years or even decades before people self-diagnose a loss of hearing. However, there are activities you are doing, perhaps even right now that could be damaging our hearing. Here are some surprising everyday activities which could damage your hearing.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
There are many causes of hearing loss that can cause permanent cell damage to the inner ear and hearing. This includes the impact on the head, the use of certain medications, exposure to certain chemicals, and chronic ear infections. However, one of the most common causes of hearing loss is noise-induced. While hearing loss is commonly thought of as a condition that affects the elderly, now, due to a world that continues to grow louder, hearing loss is becoming increasingly more common. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that
“an estimated 12.5% of children and adolescents aged 6–19 years (approximately 5.2 million) and 17% of adults aged 20–69 years (approximately 26 million) have suffered permanent damage to their hearing from excessive exposure to noise.”
Everyday Activities That Are Too Loud
It’s common knowledge that often working environments can be loud enough to damage your ears, especially industrial jobs such as construction or manufacturing. If you wear protection at work, you may believe your ears are safe from noise. However, you may be surprised at the many sources of extreme noise which exceeds safe listening levels. The amplitude or loudness of sound is measured in decibels and any decibel reading over 85 is loud enough to cause lasting permanent damage to your ears. If you commute to work, if you ride a bus, if you mow your lawn, you may be shocked to find out that your hearing may be at risk.
Do you enjoy live music? The collective experience of being in a crowd as everyone hangs on each note is a bonding experience and helps us to feel part of something larger. However, it is a good idea to do this safely. Have you ever left a live show with ringing in your ears? This is a clear sign of hearing loss.
This means it’s important to come prepared with hearing protection. The safe listening threshold for sound is 85 decibels. At this level, it can take 8 hours of constant exposure to cause damage. However, as the decibels rise the time it takes for damage to occur shrinks. Many live concerts can reach 100-120 dB, which can damage your hearing in under 15 minutes! Don’t make the mistake that only rock, pop, or other amplified music can damage your ears. Even classical music can reach dangerous decibel levels, so come prepared.
The Danger of Earbuds and Headphones
One of the greatest risks to our hearing which is common in almost any household is headphones or earbuds. These days it seems like everyone is wearing them. They allow you to have a private listening experience to help you work out, study, or work without distracting others. However, many headphones connected to smartphones or MP3 players can easily reach 100 dB. Due to the unending amount of media available through streaming people can listen for hours without realizing the devastating and permanent effect they are having on their ears. As a safety rule keep your headphone volume no higher than 60 percent of the potential volume and make sure to take listening breaks.
Caring for Your Lawn
Another surprising source of hearing damage comes from caring for your yard. Many people use motorized lawn mowers in the summer and leaf blowers all year round. These tiny engines can reach around 85-90dB- loud enough to damage your hearing in around an hour. Make sure to wear hearing protection whenever caring for your yard with motorized equipment.
Addressing Hearing Loss
If you suspect that you have a hearing loss due to noise, it’s important to address it as soon as possible. Schedule an appointment for a hearing exam. We can diagnose hearing loss and help you find the best option for you and your hearing lifestyle.