Everyone likes to unwind and have a good time. From catching a baseball game with your family to shooting clay pigeons with the guys or attending the music festival you go to each year, you have some great activities planned for this fall. But have you stopped to think about your hearing? Many of your favorite recreational activities come with a lot of loud noises, and the potential to permanently damage your hearing is high. If you’re aware of the risks, and take the time to protect your hearing, it’s possible to have a great time without sacrificing your hearing.
Noise Induced Hearing Loss
One of the most common causes of hearing loss is Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL), which is the result of exposure to far too many loud sounds. A night out with friends at the bar, a crowded sports venue, setting off firecrackers, or even sanding the back porch can spell doom for your hearing health. With Noise Induced Hearing Loss you have difficulty hearing in background noise, and lose clarity in speech sounds. Along with NIHL, many people suffer from tinnitus, that annoying ringing or buzzing in the ears that makes listening a challenge, even in quiet, and can keep you from getting a good night’s sleep. Vertigo or problems with balance are also common side effects of hearing loss.
How Loud is too Loud?
If you find yourself asking that question, it’s probably too loud. If you have to yell to be heard by your friend standing a couple feet away from you, it’s far too loud, and both you and the friend you’re yelling at are putting your hearing health at risk. It’s all in the decibels. Any sounds louder than 85 decibels (dB) are damaging your hearing. To put that in context, a normal conversation is around 60 dB, a personal listening device with earbuds can reach 100 dB, a nearby thunderclap is around 120 dB, and a gunshot ranges from 140-190 dB! While it’s safe to listen to sounds at 85 dB for a few hours before damaging your hearing, once sounds reach 120 dB, hearing loss is instantaneous and permanent.
Other recreational activities like riding a motorcycle or dirt bike are also extremely damaging to your hearing. The engine noise alone can often exceed 100 dB. In fact, the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions tested engine noise of 33 different motorbikes and found that over half reached over 100 decibels. That’s almost as loud as a chain saw or an aggressive rock concert. Even 15 minutes of exposure will damage your hearing, leaving you straining to understand conversations, and struggling to hear high pitched sounds like your grandchildren laughing in the yard. While the engine noise itself is extremely loud, what damages your hearing might actually be the wind. If you’re roaring down the highway at 75 miles an hour, the wind rushing past your head checks in at 105 dB! Helmets do nothing to block your ears, so you’ll still be getting all that sound reverberating around your ears.
Protect Your Hearing
Over 37 million Americans suffer from hearing loss, many from failing to protect their hearing in noisy environments. Take control of your hearing health and always wear hearing protection. It’s easy to remember your earplugs at work, but make sure you’re thinking about your hearing in your recreational activities too. Be aware of how loud it is, and keep a pair of ear plugs in your bag or back pocket. If you’re in a loud environment, always protect your hearing. You could even have an extra pair on hand to give to a friend. If you’re going on a long bike trip, or participating in any activity that lasts several hours, you may choose to invest in custom ear protection, molded to fit your unique ears and be comfortable for hours of wear.
If you think you have hearing loss, come visit us at My Hearing Centers for an assessment. We’ll determine your level of hearing loss and recommend the best treatment option to get you back out there doing what you love with full surround sound. Say goodbye to muffled sounds or mishearing your friends, and fully enjoy your fall activities.