Shield Your Healthy Hearing From Harmful Noise Levels
Exposure to excessive noise levels (greater than 85 decibels) during work or other activities can significantly increase your risk of hearing loss or exacerbate an existing hearing impairment. Going without hearing protection in the face of harmful noise levels is likely to create problems down the road when the damaging effects on the delicate hair cells of the cochlea — the inner-ear organ that relays sound signals to the brain — begin to surface.
Concerts, sporting events, hunting, ATV riding, running power tools, or simply listening to music too loudly can all irreparably damage hearing. At times, these noise levels can reach 110 decibels (dB) or more, which puts your hearing at risk in a matter of minutes. Some sounds can damage hearing instantaneously. A shotgun blast at close range without protection can exceed 150 dB, permanently damaging your hearing in one single, fleeting moment.
Repeated noise exposure early in life can be compounded as you get older. Since the hair cells in your inner ear never regenerate, your hearing is unlikely to get any better on its own after experiencing repeated traumatic events. Hearing damage suffered during teen years may not surface until your late 20s or early 30s — or even your 50s or 60s, when presbycusis, age-related deterioration of hearing, becomes a greater factor.
Hearing protection prevents damaging noise levels by dampening the piercing sounds but still allowing you to hear the sounds you want to hear clearly. Our hearing protection goes beyond the kind of earplugs you buy at the drugstore — Vibrant Hearing offers a variety of custom-fit hearing protection designed to fit the contours of your ear perfectly, offering a snug, comfortable fit and all-day protection from dangerous noise.
Are There Consequences Later in Life if Hearing Loss Goes Untreated?
Protecting your hearing is important, as hearing loss is connected to a number of serious health ailments later in life. The relationship between hearing loss and dementia has been established in research, and it’s a close association. There is strong evidence that hearing loss accelerates brain-tissue atrophy, particularly in areas of the brain that auditory nerves would stimulate but can’t because they aren’t receiving a signal (due to a hearing loss). These areas of the brain are also related to memory and speech.
Individuals with a mild hearing loss are also three times as likely to fall as those without, and the likelihood of falls increases as the degree of hearing loss increases. Hearing loss has been linked to a variety of other diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, sickle-cell anemia, and other circulatory conditions.
How Loud Is Too Loud?
As a general rule, if you have to raise your voice to be heard over the music or noise, it’s probably too loud and might be on the cusp of damaging your hearing. Things like lawn mowers or heavy freeway traffic tend to hover between 80 and 90 dB, which is when hearing is at risk of damage. Those who are regularly exposed to noises of 85 dB or more should have their hearing tested regularly to see if the effects of hearing damage are already present.
If you face continuous loud-noise exposure in your leisure activities or at work, please contact us for advice on the latest hearing-protection methods that best suit your needs, or to schedule an appointment to be fit for custom hearing protection.
How Can you Protect Yourself?
The surest methods of preventing noise-induce hearing loss (NIHL) are to eliminate the source, or to reduce noise at the source by engineering methods or changing your environment.
You should wear hearing protection if the noise or sound level they you’re exposed to is close to or greater than the occupational exposure limits (OEL) for noise. Hearing protectors reduce the noise exposure level and the risk of hearing loss when worn correctly.
The effectiveness of hearing protection is reduced greatly if they don’t fit properly, are not inserted or worn correctly, if they are worn only periodically, or if they are removed even for a short period of time.. Radio/music earphones or headsets are not substitutes for hearing protectors and should not be worn where hearing protectors are required to protect against exposure to noise.
What is A Noise Reduction Rating (NRR)?
Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) is the measurement, in decibels, of how well a hearing protector reduces noise as specified by the Environmental Protection Agency. The higher the NRR number the greater the noise reduction. While wearing hearing protection your exposure to noise is equal to the total noise level minus the NRR of the hearing protectors in use. For example, if you were exposed to 80db of noise but were wearing earplugs with an NRR of 29, your actual noise exposure would only be 51dB.
The performance of earplugs and earmuffs varies between brands and styles. One way to choose a hearing protector is to compare Noise Reduction Ratings. The Noise Reduction Rating, or NRR, measures the muff’s or plug’s ability to block out noise or “attenuate”; sound. This measurement is stated in decibels; a plug with an NRR of 26 blocks out a maximum of 26 decibels of noise. The NRR listed is the maximum protection that could be achieved if the plug fit the wearer perfectly and was inserted correctly. In most work situations attenuation is half of the listed NRR. For example, if the NRR is 30 the hearing protector most likely blocks out 15 decibels of noise.