When Do You Need to Protect Your Hearing?
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During your Canada Day celebrations this year, keep in mind that the longer you are exposed to excessive noise, the greater the risk of damage to your hearing.
Even sounds that don’t appear to be too loud or don’t cause you excessive discomfort can damage your hearing if you are exposed to them long enough.
Of course, loud sounds can cause damage much more quickly.
Sound is measured in decibels (dB)
The decibel scale is matched to human hearing, so 0 dB is the quietest sound that a human can hear. A conversation with a friend would be about 60 dB. At the 90 dB level, a noise level that a lawnmower will produce, we are at relatively loud noise levels that can cause damage over time. In fact, most experts agree that continued exposure to noise over 85 dB risks causing damage to your hearing. For that reason, workplace safety regulations usually require the employer to provide hearing protection for people working in areas where noise exceeds 85 dB.
At the 140 dB of a jet engine or 180 dB of a rocket launch, permanent hearing damage can occur very quickly. Fireworks can range from being almost silent to reaching noise levels at 150 dB.
Unfortunately, it is rarely obvious when damage is occurring to our hearing – we tend to notice it afterwards.
However, we can try to be aware of the noise levels in the situations we find ourselves. If you have to shout over background noise to make yourself heard, your hearing is probably in the danger zone where prolonged exposure could lead to damage.
Obviously, if you find you have ringing in your ears or experience pain, it is a sure sign your noise exposure is too high. This often appears after the noisy event (like a music concert) is over. If you find it difficult to hear for several hours after the noisy event, or hear ringing in your ears or other unusual after-effects, then your hearing has probably been in danger.
You can rest your ears by avoiding loud noises. And in future, similar situations, you can be more aware and act earlier to reduce the effects.