Hearing is one of our most important senses, aiding us in our day to day lives, and playing an important role in our safety. Yet, as society continues to get louder, we place our hearing at even greater risk. Whether it is a loud club, or bar, or if you are merely walking by the side of a busy road, your hearing is being put under strain. Regular exposure to loud noise will harm your hearing, unless, the necessary precautions are taken.
When to be Alert
The human ear is an extremely sensitive organ, able to pick up very low and loud sounds. Knowing the sounds that can be damaging to your hearing is one thing we all need to know.
Sound is measured in decibels.
Close to total silence – 0 decibels
Regular breathing – 10 decibels
Conversational speech – 60 decibels
Pavement next to busy road – 80 decibels
Intensity at which continued exposure may cause hearing loss – 90 decibels
Car horn- 110 decibels
Rock concert- 120 decibels
Intensity at which pain can begin – 125 decibels
Intensity at which even limited exposure can cause hearing loss – 140 decibels
Gunshot and jet engine – 140 decibels
Loudest sound possible – 194 decibels
How to Protect Your Hearing
The following measures should always be considered to support the sustainability of your hearing.
- Any noise that makes your ears ring, a condition known as tinnitus, is too loud.
- If having trouble communicating with someone three foot away then it is too loud.
- Use earplugs, earmuffs, or canal caps to protect your hearing.
- Don’t be afraid to see the doctor if afraid you are placing your hearing at risk.
- Lower the volume of music players, whether a stereo or personal music player.
- If a noise is causing you discomfort then it’s too loud.
- Be wary of loud places, such as clubs and pubs.
- Take a break at clubs and bars in a quiet area.
- Beware of purchasing noisy toys for your children.
- ‘Noise at Work’ regulations require your employer to keep your hearing protected.
- If you increase your distance from the source of sound, you diminish the chance of harm to your hearing.
- Wear ear protectors when partaking in loud activities, such as motorcycling, lawn mowing, hunting, or carpentry.
- Do not group noisy equipment like printers and copiers together at work.
There are several forms of hearing protection available.
Earplugs are fixed into the ear canal in order to protect your hearing. You need to make sure the earplugs are put in correctly, and that they fit properly, or they may not provide sufficient protection. When removing earplugs from your ear, make sure you do so slowly, or you can cause harm to your eardrum. They are available for both adults and children, and depending on the type, can be used to defend against loud noises, or when swimming.
Earmuffs cover the ears to provide protection for your hearing. You need to make sure they are securely fit, that they are firmly sealed, and that no jewellery or other items obstruct the seal. These are a necessity if working with loud machinery.
Also known as semi-inserts, these are similar to earplugs, but instead, cover the entrance to the ear canal.