Summer weather means fun summer activities, like watching fireworks at Buckingham Community Park. But if you’re not careful, these activities could result in permanent damage to your hearing system. Below we review how loud noises can cause damage and how to keep your ears safe this summer.
Within the inner ears are tiny hair cells called stereocilia. These hair cells are responsible for converting soundwaves into electrical energy that the brain interprets as sound, and each cell is responsible for a specific frequency.
When dangerously loud sounds pass through the ears, it can damage or destroy these cells, resulting in tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and/or hearing loss.
Any sound over 85 dB can result in permanent damage to the stereocilia. For reference, here are some everyday sounds and their decibel outputs:
- Normal conversation: 60-70 dB.
- Movie theater: 74-104 dB.
- Dirt bikes: 80-110 dB.
- Sporting event: 94-110 dB.
- Sirens: 110-129 dB.
- Fireworks: 140-160 dB.
The louder a sound, the quicker it can cause damage. So while a sound that is around 85 dB takes eight hours of exposure to cause damage, a sound that is 100 dB can cause permanent loss in as little as 15 minutes!
Protect Your Hearing at Home
Below are some tips for protecting your hearing at home this summer:
- When watching TV, keep the volume down. It should be loud enough for you to hear comfortably but not so loud it bothers other people in the house.
- While you’re listening to music through headphones, follow the 60:60 rule, which states you should listen at no more than 60% of the device’s maximum volume for no more than 60 minutes at a time.
- Wear earplugs or earmuffs when operating power tools like a lawnmower, weed whacker or leaf blower.
Protect Your Hearing in Public
Below are some tips for protecting your hearing at public events this summer:
- When enjoying fireworks, be sure to watch from a safe distance. You can still enjoy the show without sitting close to where they’re being lit off.
- When attending a concert, stay away from the loudspeaker and bring hearing protection with you.
- Invest in a set of custom earmolds for maximum comfort and protection.
For more information about keeping your ears safe or to schedule an appointment to discuss hearing protection options, call the experts at Gulf Coast Audiology today.