October is "National Protect your Hearing Month"
According to the CDC, hearing loss is the third most common chronic health condition in the United States, behind cancer and diabetes. In the United States alone, about 40 million adults under the age of 70 have noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), and other studies have suggested that approximately 15 percent of U.S. teens have signs of NIHL. That’s why October is “National Protect Your Hearing Month”. The CDC encourages everyone to learn about NIHL and the steps you can take to prevent it.
What causes NIHL?
While everyday sounds do not damage your hearing, repeated exposure to loud noise over the years can. And it’s not just the loud noises we might expect, like fireworks, live music events and overcrowded, noisy places. The activities we engage in on a regular basis – using a blender, using power tools, mowing the lawn, or even cranking up the volume on the music in our cars – these can all cause long term damage if we're not careful. Loud noises and sounds can harm irreplaceable parts of the inner ear, which, over time, can cause hearing loss, ringing in the ears and increased sensitivity to sound.
So let’s break it down. Inner ear cells, once damaged, don’t grow back. As such, NIHL is hearing trauma that can only be improved with hearing aids.
Sound is measured in decibels (dB). A whisper is about 30 dB, normal conversation is about 60 dB, and a motorcycle engine is about 95 dB. According to the CDC, noise above 85 dB over a prolonged period of time may start to damage your hearing, and loud noise above 120 dB can cause immediate harm.
Noise above 85 dB over a prolonged period of time may start to damage your hearing. Loud noise above 120 dB can cause immediate harm. (CDC, 2019)
Some signs that you may have NIHL include:
Difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds like the doorbell or a telephone.
Difficulty following conversations.
Difficulty hearing things like the television or radio.
What should you do to prevent NIHL?
The good news is, there are some easy steps you can follow to help protect your hearing:
Turn down the volume! Of course, you can turn it up occasionally, and especially, to enjoy your favorite song, but remember to give your ears a healthy break.
If you have the chance, move away from loud noises.
Wear earplugs or noise-cancelling earmuffs when you are using power tools, mowing the lawn or attending a concert or loud sporting event.
Always protect a child’s ears! Have ear plugs or earmuffs ready for them. NIHL can happen to young children too.
What's too loud? If you need to shout to make yourself heard, it is.
Spread the word!
Is the noise too loud? If you need to shout to make yourself heard, it is.