If you think loud noise is little more than an annoyance, you may want to think again. Loud noise can permanently damage your hearing. In fact, noise is a top cause of hearing loss, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Noise-induced hearing loss may be more common than you realize. According to the National Institutes of Health, as many as 24% of American adults and 17% of teens have hearing loss caused by a loud noise.
Dr. Kevin Sharim and his team of audiologists and hearing aid specialists at Sharp Hearing Care Professionals want to be sure you understand how noise can impact your hearing.
Here are four important facts to know about noise-induced hearing loss.
When you are exposed to loud noise — whether it’s over a period of time, like at a concert, or in one sudden burst, such as from a gun or fireworks — your ears can experience actual physical harm.
Loud sounds can damage tiny hair cells inside your ears. These tiny hair cells play an important role in transmitting the messages to your brain. Damaged hair cells cannot repair themselves. If they die, they cannot grow back. Noise can also cause permanent damage to the membrane lining your inner ear.
Sound is measured in units known as decibels (dBA). Sounds are considered safe to listen to for any period of time when they are at 70 dBA or less.
The sound level of fireworks or gunshots at close range is 140-150 dBA. This level of sound can harm your hearing immediately. Jackhammers, airplanes, pneumatic drills, sirens, leaf blowers, and rock concerts can register at over 100 dBA.
Other common sources of loud noise with the potential to permanently damage hearing include motorcycles, subways, lawnmowers, hairdryers, blenders, and food processors.
Even lower-decibel noises can cause damage when you’re exposed to them over time. Long or repeated exposure to loud sounds from items such as tools, home appliances, and music can also cause hearing loss, even if they’re as low as 85 dBA.
You can help prevent hearing loss by avoiding loud noises or wearing hearing protection devices in noisy situations.
Devices known as earmolds offer significant protection from the noise that has the potential to damage your hearing.
At Sharp Hearing Care Professionals, we offer custom-made earmolds that can protect your hearing. We create earmolds for musicians, hunters, and anyone else who can benefit from custom-fitted ear protection. Earmolds can also be used to protect ears during swimming and to block sound at night during sleep.
Although over-the-counter earplugs can block some sound, earmolds offer the benefit of being specially designed and carefully fitted to best meet your needs and offer optimal protection.
To schedule a hearing evaluation or a hearing test, or to be fitted for customized earmolds, contact one of our offices in Oxnard, Santa Barbara, West Hills, or Santa Monica, California.