Noise-induced Hearing Loss
Some things are under our control, like deciding to order a double bacon cheeseburger instead of the salad for dinner. Unfortunately, things like extreme weather events and developing hearing loss are not. Hearing loss is caused by genetic conditions, an injury and even simply getting older.
There is one type of hearing loss, called noise-induced hearing loss, that you can do something about.
Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by continuous exposure to loud noises or a one-time exposure to an extremely loud noise, like an explosion.
Sound is measured in decibels; anything measuring over 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. To put this in perspective:
- 20 decibels – ticking of a watch
- 60 decibels – normal conversation
- 85 decibels – heavy Portland traffic
- 95 decibels – motorcycle
- 120 decibels – police car siren
- 150 decibels – jet engine taking off
Tips to Prevent Noise-induced Hearing Loss
The simplest way to prevent noise-induced hearing loss is to wear earplugs. Sounds easy enough! If you are going to be in a loud environment, like a concert, your Portland audiologist recommends purchasing the proper ear protection beforehand. While worn during the event, your ears will be protected from the dangerously loud sounds.
Another way to prevent noise-induced hearing loss is to monitor how loudly you are listening to music on your personal music player. Your Portland audiologist recommends investing in over-ear headphones, instead of the in-the-ear style, which can help block out background noise so you can listen to your music at a lower volume. You should also start listening to your music with the volume at the lowest level. Simply turn it up until you can hear your music and then stop.
Common Jobs That Can Cause Hearing Loss
The workplace is one of the most common environments where people are exposed to dangerously loud noises. In fact, about 30 million workers in Portland and around the country are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work. Common jobs that can cause hearing loss are construction worker, ambulance driver, air traffic controller and garbage collector.
The good news is that you do not have to figure out how to protect your ears all on your own. If your workplace puts you in loud situations, they are required by law to provide you with hearing protection. If they do not adequately equip you with proper protection you should contact your supervisor or human resources representative. An unsafe work environment is not something you have to put up with.
If you are unsure if your workplace is putting your ears in harm’s way, contact your Portland audiologist. Your audiologist can help you understand which sounds are safe and which sounds require additional protection.