Noise Induced Hearing Loss… How Loud is Too Loud?
As a child, I remember 4th of July being the best time, especially because it gave me the opportunity to play with sparklers and black cats. While playing with my sister, I lit a black cat and threw it in barely enough time. It went off very close to me, and it was LOUD. My right ear started ringing, but after a few minutes it subsided and I didn’t think much of it. Luckily, there was no permanent damage, but it does raise the question—how loud does a sound need to be in order to cause permanent hearing loss?
In my situation, it was entirely possible that if I had been a little less lucky, I could have permanently lost some hearing in my right ear (or a few fingers!). Loud noises like fireworks, gun shots, or explosions can take only one exposure to leave permanent damage to your hearing. If you know you will be around these types of noises, hearing protection is STRONGLY encouraged for everyone, especially for children.
Even when you’re not at the local gun range or near explosives, you should still be aware of the noises around you. There are many noises we hear every day that take a gradual toll on our hearing, most of which are sneaky enough that we won’t notice until it’s too late! Motorcycles, lawn mowers, hair dryers, blenders, and even vacuum cleaners all are loud enough to effect hearing if you’re exposed to the sound for enough time.
Now, your hearing care provider doesn’t expect you to wear ear plugs every time you vacuum your home, however it is important to realize that hearing protection IS important when you’ll be exposed to these loud noises for extended periods of time. Rule of thumb is that the louder the noise, the less amount of time you can be exposed to it. Always use your best judgement in these situations, and remember: hearing loss is not reversible, but it is preventable.