It’s important to protect your ears from loud noises that you may not even realize are causing harm. There are many different ways we are exposed to dangerous levels of sound, but it’s not enough to only worry about how loud the sounds are, you also need to pay attention to how long you are exposed to the sound. Though there are certainly sounds that can damage your hearing instantaneously, like a shotgun blast, prolonged noise exposure is also a culprit in noise-induced hearing loss.
Central Texas, especially the Austin area is no stranger to noise exposure. Live music is prevalent in and around New Braunfels, Austin and San Antonio. Noise levels at concerts can be some of the more damaging, especially to musicians or fans who like to stand close to the stage. Add to that city noise and noise levels at work, not to mention listening to the radio in the care while stuck in traffic and you may be exposed to much more noise than you realize. This can lead to ear fatigue or permanent hearing loss.
How Much Noise Exposure is Too Much?
This question can be answered by taking a look at the noise level paired with the length of exposure. According to the Centers for Disease Control, and based on the NIOSH REL, in an occupational situation the maximum allowable daily dose of sound exposure varies accordingly:
Time to reach threshold Exposure level per NIOSH REL
8 hours 85 dB
4 hours 88 dB
2 hours 91 dB
60 minutes 94 dB
30 minutes 97 dB
15 minutes 100 dB
Who Should Be Concerned with Noise Exposure?
Occupations that should be concerned about prolonged noise exposure include:
Teachers or Daycare Workers
Large Equipment Operators
Nightclub Workers (Bouncers, Bartenders, Wait Staff)
Formula 1 Drivers
Airport Workers (Ground Crew)
Some of these professions may surprise you. Even if you realize that you are exposed to noise, you may not know the damage it could be doing to your hearing. It is important to pay attention to the noise levels you are exposed to throughout the day and wear sufficient hearing protection when and where possible. Even with hearing protection, when you work in one of these industries, monitoring your hearing is an important part of prevention. An annual hearing test will help you stay on top of any potential damage being done to your hearing. If it has already taken a toll, a hearing test will tell you and a licensed audiologist can help you decide what to do from there.
Recreational Hearing Protection
Recreationally, anyone who hunts should always wear hearing protection. One gun blast is all it takes to change your hearing forever. Digital hearing protection is available so that hunters and recreational shooters can still converse and enjoy the company of their fellow enthusiasts or while protecting their hearing. In these instances, the ear plugs offer slight amplification until a shot is fired. Once this occurs the ear plugs spring into action and do their job, protecting the wearer’s ears from the gun blast.
Musicians, even if you are not performing weekly, you should still be wearing hearing protection during practices and performances. There are excellent filtered ear plugs that will not mute the high tones and instead work as an overall volume control to keep your ears safe but allow you to hear the music at a safe level. These are ideal for concert-goers. Additionally, for the performing musician, there are in-ear monitors that bring down the noise level from the big wedge monitors that used to be commonplace on every stage. Many musicians tout their in-ear monitors as their saving grace when it comes to their hearing.
There are custom and non-custom options for other needs as well, like motorcyclists, swimmers, those who share a bed with a snorer and more. If you are concerned about your noise level exposure and would like a hearing test to determine if you have any hearing loss, or if you would like to talk about the custom hearing protection options available to you, contact Estes Audiology Hearing Centers today for a consultation.