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There are many everyday situations where you might be concerned about the noise level around you. If you found yourself at a loud concert before the pandemic, perhaps you became concerned that the decibel level was too high. Those who work in factories, industrial sites, or other workplaces with heavy machinery might be concerned that their noise exposure is enough to damage hearing. If you have ever heard a gunshot at close range, then you know just how loud that sound can be.
In each of these situations, your concern about hearing damage should translate into wearing hearing protection! Even wearing disposable foam earplugs can lower the volume level of noise by 10 to 15 decibels, pulling that experience into the safe range in some contexts. More advanced hearing protection is necessary for higher noise volumes, particularly if exposed for an entire workday. In addition to these dangerous settings, you might be exposed to other hearing risks that are easy to ignore.
Noise can be dangerous
The crucial consideration for noise-related hearing loss is how loud the sound is and how long you are exposed to it. A relatively loud sound experienced for a sustained period, such as those produced by the following everyday activities, can be just as risky as a deafening and brief sound in some cases. So let’s explore the dangers associated with some of these everyday activities so that you can protect yourself the next time they come along.
Many lawnmowers, weed whackers, and leaf blowers can cause a perfect storm for noise level and duration of use. Some lawn mowers can be as loud as 90 decibels and higher, which exceeds the recommended threshold of 85 decibels. Although this sound is relatively loud, it does need to be experienced for a sustained duration to risk hearing damage. Anyone with an extensive lawn will understand how much time it requires to maintain! If you follow lawn mowing with weed whacking and leaf blowing in a single day, your ears will have been exposed to noise for too long a duration. Wearing earplugs is a starting point when it comes to protection, but you can also put on a pair of noise-canceling earmuffs for better protection.
Although you seldom see people who work at restaurants and bars wearing earplugs, this work environment creates a perfect storm for noise.
Many of these establishments play music in the background, creating a good atmosphere. When groups of people gather to talk, they need to talk over that music to be heard. When another group of people enters that room, they need to talk over the music and the other patrons. The more popular a restaurant or bar, the more likely it is to be filled with customers competing for sonic space. A long dinner or night out can expose us to sustained volumes that are sufficient to cause hearing damage, and those who work in these places of business are mainly at risk of hearing damage.
You might want to consider wearing hearing protection, limiting your time in the establishment, or seeking a quieter part of the space.
Using personal media devices
Many of us listen a little too loudly when it comes to headphones and earbuds. Particularly for those of us who wear earbuds while commuting on a noisy train or exercising amidst a din of treadmills and machinery, the combination of environmental sound and our chosen music, audiobook, or podcast can combine to a dangerously high level of noise. We are, in effect, competing with that environmental sound when we turn up the volume to be able to hear our devices in loud environments. Listening to earbuds while mowing the lawn might be a worst-case scenario!
Rather than turning up the volume to compete with the surrounding soundscape, you can download an app to help you monitor your volume use. You can also get noise-canceling headphones that work against sound in the environment while also playing music or other entertainment you enjoy.
Addressing Your Hearing Health
We hope these tips will help you go about your daily life more protected from noise hazards. If you have already noticed changes to your hearing, it’s not too late to get help. Contact us today to take back charge of your hearing!