While hearing loss can be caused by a single loud sound (like firecrackers) near your ear, it’s most often due to repeated, prolonged exposure to loud noise.
What’s worse is that pain or ringing in the ears may only occur once your ears are already damaged. If loud noise doesn’t bother you, it may mean your hearing is affected.
What is the likelihood of situational hearing loss?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), noise above 70 dB over a prolonged period may start to damage your hearing. Loud noise above 120 dB as well as exposure to moderately loud noise for a long time can cause immediate harm to your ears.
Examples of harmful noise:
- Gas-powered lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and power tools can reach 85 dB.
- A movie theater can have sounds of 70 to 104 dB.
- A sporting event can have a volume of 94 to 110 dB.
- Listening to music with your headphones at the highest volume can reach a volume of 96 to 110 dB.
- A noisy restaurant can reach 85 dB – not only making it impossible to hear your dining companions but exposing long-term staff to hearing damage.
- Shouting in the ear can reach 100 dB and can cause hearing loss in under two minutes!
Curious about the volume and want to make a change?
Awareness is the first step to change. If you want to check out the volume of your environment, the CDC recommends The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Sound Level Meter. It helps workers make informed decisions about their noise environment and promote better hearing health and prevention efforts.
You’re tired of noisy restaurants? Try the Soundprint app, which keeps a public database of the volume of restaurants. SoundPrint submissions enable the public, venue managers and city officials to understand how loud or quiet a venue in their city actually is. The site also provides restaurant owners with resources on how to quieten their restaurants.
For those working in construction or as hobbyists, Buy Quiet is a great public health initiative that encourages companies to purchase or rent quieter machinery and tools to reduce noise exposure.
A NIOSH Power Tools Database makes noise data available to tool buyers, users, and manufacturers of powered hand tools. Information is available on equipment noise levels with a wider aim to encourage manufacturers to design quieter equipment by creating a demand for products with reduced noise.
We are all vulnerable to situational hearing loss. Still, we all can educate ourselves on protecting our hearing health and seeking out quieter environments when possible. As cities grow more crowded, they become busier and louder, which is why noise prevention and hearing protection will become even more important in the future.
To prevent situational hearing loss in everyday life, whether you are listening to music or talking on the phone, Mimi provides solutions that enable you to listen at reduced volume levels without any loss of detail.
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