You probably know that prolonged exposure to loud noises can harm your hearing. But what about noises you encounter day in and day out? Can they cause permanent damage? Just how much does a power tool, hair dryer or emergency siren impact your hearing?
While there’s not a clear-cut answer, there are some parameters to note, especially since it’s National Protect Your Hearing Month:
First, the less time you spend listening to loud noises, the better. Loud noises can’t always be avoided, so try to limit exposure to the extent you can.
Second, the higher the decibels, the more impact the sound will have on your hearing. A decibel (dB) is a measure of sound intensity. It’s expressed on a logarithmic scale from the smallest audible sound to the most powerful.
Here’s the surprising part: going up just three decibels on the scale doubles the sound level you perceive. In other words, turning up the volume of your radio by a small amount can make the sound two times more intense for your ears! This is known as the 3 dB Rule. What’s more, if loud noise levels increase by 3 dB, not only does it double the amount of the sound, but it also reduces the recommended amount of exposure time allowed by half – because the louder the noise, the faster it can damage your hearing.
When you know loud noise will strike, plan ahead so you can quickly put on earmuffs or pop in a set of ear plugs. For the times you’re caught off guard, increase the distance between your ears and the noise source as much as possible.
Before you worry if the everyday sounds around you put your hearing at risk, take a moment to learn more about the decibel levels that are safest for your hearing health and how to proceed with caution:
Unfortunately, hearing loss cannot be reversed, but it can be remedied with the help of a trained professional. Early intervention is key to maintaining an enjoyable quality of life, so don’t wait to seek help.
If you think your exposure to loud sound has impacted your hearing, get a hearing test. Make an appointment with a hearing healthcare professional who can diagnose your hearing loss and explain how Sonic makes Everyday Sounds Better!