Exposure to loud noises over an extended period of time can lead to permanent hearing loss. You constantly come into contact with dangerously loud sounds, from working with power tools to attending concerts. Hazardous noise exposure can also occur on the job, as those in the military can attest.
Understanding Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Within your inner ear are delicate hair cells, which are responsible for translating soundwaves into electrical impulses. These impulses are sent via the auditory nerve to the brain to be interpreted as sound.
Repeat exposure to loud noises can damage these hair cells, leading to permanent hearing loss.
Sounds are measured in decibels (dB). Anything over 85 dB can cause hearing loss. Below are some familiar sounds with their decibel ratings, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.
- 60-70 dB: normal conversation
- 74-104 dB: movie theater
- 80-110 dB: motorcycles and dirt bikes
- 94-110 dB: music trough headphones played at maximum volume, sporting events and concerts
- 110-129 dB: sirens
- 140-160 dB: fireworks
According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, an estimated 60,000 military members are on disability for hearing loss and tinnitus from their military service within just the past 20 years.
Military members come into contact with loud noises on a daily basis from firearms to heavy machinery. When not wearing proper hearing protection, this exposure can lead to permanent hearing loss.
There is currently a lawsuit against 3M Company claiming they designed the earplugs provided to military personnel in a defective manner and failed to warn users of the defect or to provide proper instructions for their use. Those who used the dual-ended Combat Arms earplugs during their military service between 2003 and 2015 may have been affected, many of whom are now suffering from hearing loss, tinnitus and balance issues.
There is some good news; the number of service members with hearing loss has been shrinking. The percent of service members with hearing loss has decreased from 21% in 2012 to 15% in 2018, according to the Department of Defense Hearing Center of Excellence.
To learn more about how to protect yourself from hearing loss or to speak with a professional, contact Gulf Coast Audiology today.