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Hearing protection - Knock out noise

earSummer is a roar of blowers and mowers, with extra hours to listen to music via earbuds. Loud and long-lasting sounds can permanently damage hearing. Our ears are wondrous organs - let's protect them!

An Epidemic of Hearing LossAn estimated 26 million Americans, ages 20 to 69 have irreversible hearing loss caused by loud sounds. Up to 16% of teens have hearing loss that may have been caused by loud noise.

Recent studies show an alarming increase in noise-related hearing loss in young people.

"Noise damage can begin at any age, and it tends to accumulate over time. That's why avoiding excess noise is so critical," says Dr. Gordon Hughes, a clinical trials director and ear, nose, and throat specialist at NIH. "Hearing loss caused by noise is completely preventable."

Ears Are Delicate 

Loud noises can injure the delicate sensory cells, hair cells, in the inner ear. These cells help to convert sound vibrations into electrical signals that travel along nerves from the ear to the brain. When hair cells are damaged and then destroyed, they don't grow back. Hearing is permanently harmed.

How Loud is Too Loud?

Sound is measured in units called decibels (dB). Sounds less than 75 dB are unlikely to harm hearing. Long or repeated exposure at or above 85 dB can cause problems.

  • Normal conversation: 60 dB
  • Lawn mower: 90 dB
  • Chain saw: 100 dB
  • Audio player at max volume with ear buds: 105 dB. There's potential for noise damage at barely 30 minutes of exposure.
  • Rock concert: 110 dB
  • Gun muzzle blast, jet engine: 149 dB can cause pain and even brief exposure injures unprotected ears.

Ear Protection - 5 Things to Do 

  1. Foam insert earplugs - Available in variety of shapes and sizes at pharmacy. Can be custom-made.
  2. Earmuffs - Fit over entire outer ear to form an air seal. Hardware & sporting goods stores.
  3. 60/60 Rule for MP3 devices - Listen at levels up to 60% of maximum volume for a TOTAL of 60 minutes a day.
  4. Protect the ears of children and teens
  5. Get a hearing test if you think you or a loved one might have hearing loss