Has your mother ever told you to turn down your music because it’s too loud? Well, she was right. Exposure to loud noises isn’t just obnoxious to others, it can cause irreversible hearing loss. This is important to keep in mind next time you’re listening to music through headphones or when you attend your first post-COVID concert at Dos Equis Pavilion.
Below we provide an overview of everything you need to know to protect your ears from unsafe noises.
How Are Sounds Measured?
Sounds are measured in decibels (dB), and the decibel scale is logarithmic. Here’s what this means: The quietest sound that can be detected by a human ear is about 0 dB, and a sound that is 10 dB in volume is 10x louder than the 0 dB sound; a sound that is 20 dB is 100x louder; and a sound that is 30 dB is 1000x louder.
This may seem confusing, so here are some everyday sounds and their decibel outputs for context:
- 70 dB – washing machine
- 80 dB – traffic from inside a car
- 90 dB – leaf blower
- 100 dB – sporting event
- 110 dB – rock concert
- 120 dB – siren
How Do Sounds Cause Damage?
Any sound over 85 dB can cause damage over time. But the louder a sound is, the quicker it can harm your hearing system. A sound that is 85 dB can cause permanent damage after eight hours or more of continuous exposure, while a sound at 100 dB can cause damage in as little as just 15 minutes. For sounds over 120 dB, the damage may be instantaneous.
Within your inner ear are tiny hair cells called stereocilia, which convert soundwaves into electrical energy that the brain can then interpret. When a dangerously loud sound passes through your ears, it can bend or break the cilia. Unlike other hairs on your body, once damaged, the cilia do not regrow, and permanent hearing loss is the result.
How to Protect Your Hearing
The best thing you can do for your hearing is to minimize your exposure to loud sounds. This includes:
- Wearing earplugs, earmuffs or custom-fit earmolds when participating in noisy activities.
- Following the 60/60 rule when listening to music through headphones, meaning you listen at no more than 60% of your device’s maximum volume for no more than 60 minutes at a time.
For more information about hearing protection or to schedule an appointment with an audiologist, call Total Hearing Care of Dallas today.