Everyday Noises that Could Cause Hearing Loss

Dr. Li-Korotky

It might come as no surprise that your hearing is at risk after an exceptionally noisy event. If you were close to an explosion or involved in a car accident, you might have temporary or extended hearing loss from the event. Other events or settings seem like a recipe for hearing damage. A very loud concert or dance club can feel overwhelming to the body and mind, and hearing protection is often necessary to prevent serious hearing damage, particularly if you frequent these events.

However, it is not necessary to be in an uncomfortably loud setting to experience permanent hearing damage. Let’s take a look at some of the everyday noises that can cause hearing loss. Some of them might surprise you! After we have an understanding of the type of sounds that are dangerous, let’s consider the things you can do to protect your hearing or to get treatment for existing hearing loss.

What common sounds can cause hearing loss?

In addition to the noticeably loud sounds of explosions, concerts, and industrial sites, there are some everyday sounds that can also be damaging. A sound only as loud as 85 decibels can do damage if it is endured for 8 hours’ time. Those who work with loud equipment such as lawnmowers in landscaping, chainsaws in forest maintenance, sirens in emergency response, or even hair dryers in beauty salons can incur hearing damage if the sound is sustained for a long shift of work.

What about sounds that are not endured for 8 hours at a time? Those who use these machines for everyday activities may not have lasting hearing damage if they are used for very short times. However, even some machines like weed wackers and lawnmowers when used for extended periods of time can become dangerous. Another surprising source of potentially damaging sound can be social events. Even a restaurant can have such a loud din of voices during the dinner hours that it can leave your ears ringing afterward, a sign that they have undergone a volume that was too loud for too long.

Headphones and earbuds are one of the worst culprits of everyday noise that can cause hearing loss. Turning these devices up to maximum volume is often beyond the threshold for sustained listening, yet we are tempted to do so when there is competing sound in the environment. If you have ever had the experience of using headphones in a loud place like on a train or bus then returning to that device in a quiet place, you might have noticed just how loud that music had been all along. Particularly when used for a long period of time, this volume level can cause permanent hearing loss.

What can I do to protect my hearing? 

If you recognize the threat of these very loud sounds, then hearing protection is necessary. One way to protect your hearing is to limit the time of exposure to these sounds. Simply by taking an extended noise break from the activity, you can do some preventative work.

Also, you can break up an extended project with a loud piece of machinery into several different days. These strategies can be helpful, but the best thing you can do is to wear hearing protection. Simple disposable foam earplugs can help significantly, but custom-fitted hearing protection is also available to make it possible to carry on a conversation while also protecting your hearing.

For very loud work locations, wearing earplugs beneath noise-cancelling earmuffs can be a good strategy, but this combination will likely make it impossible to talk with your coworkers. Follow the guidelines provided by your employer as a baseline, but you also might want to take a decibel reading in your place of work to make sure your ears are being appropriately protected from the level of noise.

Take a Hearing Test

If you believe that your hearing has already incurred damage from everyday noise or workplace sources, the good news is that treatment options are available. It starts with a hearing test. After a hearing exam and consultation, if a hearing loss is detected, our team can discuss these options with you and help you find a set of hearing aids that are suited to your individual needs and lifestyle. A hearing test also helps you establish a baseline for your hearing abilities and could encourage you to protect the hearing you have! Contact us today to learn more.