Many people are unaware of how to take care of their hearing and protect themselves against dangerous sounds that can permanently damage the auditory system. With July 4th firework celebrations coming it is important to understand the best steps to preserve your hearing!  

 

Identifying Damaging Sounds 

In order to protect your hearing, it is important to know when a sound is too loud. Many people have the experience of ringing after long-term exposure to loud sounds like a concert. This ringing is actually a symptom of temporary damage to the hearing organ. Repeated and long durations of these loud noises will cause permanent damage in addition to the temporary loss. The damage to the system typically happens to the “hair cells”  of the cochlea or the hearing organ. When you damage these internal hair cells it is impossible to repair them. 

 

So when is a sound too loud? Normal conversations typically average around 60 decibels (dB). A decibel is the measurement of sound. Consistent exposure to sounds above 80dB for more than 8 hours can begin to damage hearing. A hairdryer for example averages at about 90dB, meaning it can cause damage to the hair cells with repeated exposure.  

 

Examples of loud environments/noises:

  • Concerts 
  • Airplanes 
  • Clubs 
  • Jackhammering 
  • Sirens 
  • Shooting Ranges 
  • Motorcycles
  • Lawn mowing
  • Fireworks

 

How to Protect Your Hearing

When you are able to identify you will be in a noisy environment it is important to know how to protect your hair cells from damage! There are a variety of different types of hearing protection and some are better for different kinds of activities. 

 

Custom Hearing Protection

This type of hearing protection is made by professionals and is completely custom to you and the anatomy of your ear. This is often the best type of hearing protection. Many appreciators of music choose to get custom hearing protection that can still preserve the natural changes and sound of music. 

 

Over the Ear Hearing Protection

These headphones are placed over the ears and also help preserve hearing. Some of these have options for specific activities like shooting which has fast-acting damping while preserving average conversational speech. 

 

Foam Hearing Protection

This is not a custom device but must be inserted correctly for it to properly attenuate sound. This hearing protection must be deeply inserted and adhere to the package directions but is still a great option for hearing protection.

 

There are many more options for hearing protection but the most important thing is to protect your hearing! To get more information about your hearing protection options or if you have noticed any changes in your hearing see a local hearing care professional.