Over 12 million Americans have hearing loss as a result of exposure to noise, or noise-induced hearing loss. The audiologists here at Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute as well as audiologists across the country are encouraging individuals to protect their hearing by:
- Wearing hearing protection when around sounds louder than 85dB for 30 minutes or more.
- Turning down the volume when listening to the radio, the TV, MP3 player, or anything through ear buds and headphones.
- Walking away from loud noise.
Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by damage to the microscopic hair cells which are found in the inner ear. They are small sensory cells that convert the sounds we hear into electrical signals that travel to the brain. Once damaged, our hair cells cannot be repaired or grow back, causing permanent hearing loss.
The loudness of sound is measured in units called decibels (dB). Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by prolonged exposure to any loud noise over 85 dB, such as concerts, sporting events, lawnmowers, fireworks, MP3 players at full volume, and more. A brief exposure to a very intense sound, such as a gun shot near the ear, can also damage your hearing.
An environment is too loud and considered dangerous if you:
- Have to shout over background noise to be heard.
- It is painful to your ears.
- It makes your ears ring during and after exposure.
If you have decreased or “muffled” hearing for several hours after exposure, that is a sign of a temporary change in hearing, which can possibly lead to permanent hearing damage.
To prevent noise induced hearing loss, the Hearing Center at Jacksonville Hearing and Balance offers a wide range of hearing protection devices that are custom-made to fit the unique curvature of an individual’s ear. These devices attenuate loud sounds and can be used in any environment that can potentially damage hearing sensitivity; from concerts, to sporting events, and even to the firing range.
If you are interested in meeting with an audiologist to discuss custom hearing protection options to fit your lifestyle, contact the Hearing Center at 904-399-0350 to make an appointment.