How Loud Does Noise Have To Be To Cause Hearing Loss?

It’s difficult to ignore the draw of the big city life; the fast pace hustle, the general “go get it” attitude.  There is no argument that the overall aura of the big city is bound to leave you reaching for the stars.  You can’t deny the overflow of excitement the metropolis lifestyle brings, however, along with it comes a whole lot of noise.  Cars honking plus people shouting, then factor in the constant construction, you best be prepared for quite a bit of ruckus.

Hearing Loss from Loud Noise

Contrary to popular belief, excess noise can be more than just an annoyance; it can actually be classified as a danger.  Noise can be unsafe when it’s too loud, especially when exposed for long periods of time, but also for short ones.  These types of noises can cause noise induced hearing loss, also known as NIHL.  NIHL happens when excessive and/or loud noise damages the sensitive structures of the inner ear.  This process could take a while to set in or it may happen instantly; it may be momentary or it may be everlasting, there is no sure way to tell. ear

There are, however, a number of activities that can be avoided in order to minimize your chances of developing noise induced hearing loss.  Listening to headphones to loudly, shooting ranges / hunting, playing in a band, attending too many loud concerts and motorcycling are all actions that should be evaded in order to decrease your chances of obtaining NIHL.

What Decibel Level Causes Hearing Loss?

In order to avoid these dangerous sounds the best you can, you have to understand them the best you can.  Decibels are how sounds are measured.  Sounds of 76 decibels or more are unlikely to cause hearing loss, even when exposed for lengthy periods of time.  That being said, long exposure to (or repeated) sounds of 85 decibels and above can most definitely cause hearing loss.  The louder the sound gets will increase the chance of you receiving noise induced hearing loss.

Here are few examples of common decibel levels:headphones

Refrigerator – 45 decibels

Conversation – 60 decibels

Motorcycle – 95 decibels

Headphones at maximum volume – 105 decibels

Firecrackers and gunshots – 150 decibels

 

The further away you are from the source of these high decibel noises will obviously decrease your odds at encountering NIHL, however, avoiding them all together would be your best bet to keep your hearing intact.

NIHL can be prevented if you take the proper precautions day to day.  You don’t have to turn your headphones up to max volume every time.  Earplugs are recommended and provided by most, if not all shooting ranges, so take advantage.  NIHL is the only type of hearing loss that is preventable if the right measures are taken.

Luckily, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) are in deep with the research on the causes, diagnosis and treatment of this type of hearing loss.  Though NIHL isn’t the most common form of hearing loss, nor is it the most dangerous, however, it isn’t to be underestimated.  Please take careful notice of this growing issue and adjust your listening closely.

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