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26 Jan

Sound Levels Of Everyday Noises - Noise Related Hearing Loss

If you've experienced hearing loss or feel you need to start using hearing aids for ear protection, you should know more about various sound levels and their effect on your hearing. This information will help you to avoid areas where loud noises can damage your hearing.

sound waves

After reading this post, you’ll understand the meaning of a decibel and how loud it is. You’ll also know the kind of everyday sounds to avoid, the causes of noise-related hearing loss and how to protect your ears.

How Sound Is Measured in Decibels

A decibel is a unit of sound intensity. Usually, it’s written as dB. Beginning from 0 dB for the smallest sound to hundreds of decibels for loud deafening sounds, the decibel scale has both safe and hazardous levels. The following points of reference can be used to understand various decibel measurements:

  • 0dB — the softest audible sound
  • 10dB — the sound of normal breathing
  • 20dB — a whisper made about five feet from you
  • 30dB — a whisper close to you
  • 40dB — sounds of pages flipped in a quiet library
  • 50dB — the sound of a refrigerator's compressor
  • 60dB — normal conversation at a dinner table

How Loud Are Everyday Noises?

Most noises, like the sound of conversation, rainfall or electric shavers, aren’t harmful, and they usually range from 0 to 70 dB. But the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association states that sounds over 85 dBA (adjusted decibels) can damage your hearing quite quickly. Sounds may be categorized as follows:

  • Safe sounds (30 dB to 70 dB): from the sound of whispers to the noise of an alarm clock
  • Very loud and dangerous sounds (91 dB to 112 dB): subway, gas mower, kitchen blender, tractor, leaf blower
  • Painful noise (120 dB to 150 dB): airplane takeoff, ambulance siren, jackhammer, firearms

How Does Noise-Related Hearing Loss Happen?

Noise-related hearing loss occurs when sensitive parts of the ear such as the eardrum, bones of the middle ear or the tiny hairs in the cochlea (inner ear) get damaged by loud noise. Here’s a summary of what happens:

  • Loud noise produces loud sound waves.
  • These sound waves come in through the outer ear and cause your eardrum to vibrate.
  • As the eardrum vibrates rapidly, the tiny bones of the middle ear move the vibrations to the inner ear.
  • The inner ear or cochlea has tiny hair cells in a fluid medium.
  • Hair cells transmit sound to the brain for interpretation and response.
  • Loud sounds make these hair cells move rapidly and can damage them permanently.

How to Provide Adequate Ear Protection

 Here are the steps to take for effective ear protection:

  • Use earplugs and earmuffs alone or together to reduce the noise level when you expect to hear sounds above 85 dB.
  • Avoid listening to loud sounds for long periods.
  • Reduce the volume of listening devices like mp3 players, radios and cell phones.
  • Read and understand the noise levels printed on power tools, appliances and other devices.
  • Use gadgets with low operational noise.

At Beltone, we offer exceptional hearing test services. We also recommend the most suitable programmable hearing aids, backed by a five-year warranty and lifetime support services. For more information about hearing aids, give us a call at (717) 763-1210 or contact us today.

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