On a daily basis we are all exposed to sounds present in the environment. Typically, these sounds pose no risk to our ability to hear, and we rarely consider noise risks that may be present in our everyday routines. Sound, however, has the potential to cause hearing loss if it is too loud, long-lasting, or both. Noise-induced hearing loss can happen suddenly or gradually over a period of time. It can affect one or both ears, and the damage can be temporary or permanent. It is often difficult to ascertain whether a sound is causing damage to our auditory system in the moment. In fact, the inability to hear clearly may present itself in later years due to damage occurring earlier in life. The good news is that noise-induced hearing is preventable!
Protect your ears and your family by practicing these tips offered to us by the Hearing Loss Association of America!
- Know which noises can cause damage (those at or above 85 decibels). Decibel reader apps are readily available for your electronic devices to monitor exposure to noise. The National Institutes of Health tells us that sounds at or below 70 dBA are generally considered safe. Any sound at or above 85 dBA is more likely to damage hearing over time.
- Wear earplugs or other protective devices when involved in a loud activity like music concerts, sporting events, and recreational activities involving firearms.
- If you can’t reduce the noise or protect yourself from it, move away from it. Increase the distance between yourself and the source of sound.
- Be alert to hazardous noises in the environment.
- Protect the ears of children who are too young to protect their own. This includes talking to your children and adolescents about electronics, earbuds, and earphones.
- Make family, friends, and colleagues aware of the hazards of noise.
- Have your hearing tested if you think you might have hearing loss.
Many thanks to Tampa General Hospital, our founding partner, for sponsoring our Five Senses “Five Alive” lesson in Hillsborough County!