Trinity Health offers a wide range of hearing protection devices for a variety of environments with noise. These include both non-custom and custom earplugs and earmuffs for musicians, hunters, motorcyclists, construction workers, oil field workers, and people in other high noise environments. For individuals wanting protection from noise, but access to speech and other sound, there are a variety of filtered and/or digital hearing protection products available.
Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by damage to the sensory hearing cells found in our inner ear. Once damaged, the cells cannot grow back and permanent hearing loss results. In some cases, even one exposure to very loud noise is enough to permanently damage the cells.
Noise is one of the most common occupational hazards facing people today. It is estimated that as many as 30 million Americans are exposed to potentially harmful sounds at work. Another 9 million are at risk for hearing loss from other agents such as solvents and metals. Even outside of work, many people participate in recreational activities that can produce harmful noise such as music concerts, sporting events, heavy machinery, power tools, etc. Members of the armed forces are at particular risk of damage to their ears as peak exposure levels from jet engines and weapons systems can reach over 140dB. One in three cases of hearing loss developed as a result of exposure to noise.
Noise is dangerous if:
- You have to shout over background noise to be heard
- The noise is painful to your ears
- The noise makes your ears ring
- You have decreased or “muffled” hearing for several hours after exposure
- And remember: the louder the sound, the less time it takes to cause permanent damage
Listening to any sound at a high volume – more than 89dB – for more than five hours a week can damage hearing permanently over time. Noise damage builds up gradually and the effects may not be noticed until years later, when it is too late. Most hearing loss and/or tinnitus caused by noise exposure is permanent.
Young Adults and Noise Exposure
Approximately 15% of all children ages 6-19 have permanent noise-induced hearing loss. The World Health Organization recently estimated that over 1 billion people aged 12-35 are at risk for developing noise-induced hearing loss due to personal electronics, smartphones, loud music venues, night clubs, and sporting events.
Noise-induced hearing loss can happen at any age and is 100% preventable. Smartphones have free sound meter apps to monitor ambient sound levels. If the decibel level is greater than 85 dB, hearing protection is always recommended.
Ways to Prevent Hearing Loss from Noise Exposure
- Wear hearing protection when sounds are louder than 85 dB. There are different types of hearing protection such as foam earplugs, earmuffs, and custom hearing protection devices.
- Turn down the volume when listening to the radio, TV, MP3 player, or anything through ear buds and headphones. Volume levels should not exceed 60% of the total volume for more than 60 minutes at a time.
- Use noise-isolating or noise-cancelling headphones
- Walk away from the noise.
- Do not put anything other than hearing protection in your ear.
- Monitor hearing every couple of years, sooner if you notice changes.