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While we are surrounded by sounds everyday, we don’t often consider that some of them could be loud enough to cause noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).

According to the Hearing Health Foundation, when we are exposed to harmful noise that is either too loud and/or lasts a long time, sensitive structures in our inner ear can be damaged, resulting in NIHL.

What sounds cause NIHL?

NIHL can be caused by a one-time exposure to an intense “impulse” sound like an explosion, or by continuous exposure to loud sounds over an extended period, such as noise generated at a rock concert or loud sports event.

The loudness of sound is measured in units called decibels (dB). For example, the humming of a refrigerator is 40 dB, normal conversation is approximately 60 dB, and city traffic noise can be 85 dB. Long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 dB can cause hearing loss.

It is also important to be aware of the distance from the source of the sound and duration of exposure to the sound, avoiding noises that are too loud, last too long, or are too close.

Knowing which situations call for wearing hearing protection — and choosing the best noise protection for that environment — is vital to your hearing health.

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