Unexpected Causes of Hearing Loss

Unexpected Causes of Hearing Loss
Jeff Baller, Au.D., CCC-A
Latest posts by Jeff Baller, Au.D., CCC-A (see all)

For many of us, hearing loss comes as a product of aging. Indeed, it is the third most prevalent chronic health condition in the United States. Where ever you are in your hearing health journey, Professional Hearing Services is available to help. It starts with a phone call and hearing evaluation. If you are 65 or older, you are a likely candidate for hearing loss and while that may not be something you want to hear, today’s hearing aids are marvels of technology and will help improve the quality of your life as you age.
While age is one cause of hearing loss, there are others. There is noise all around you and you must exercise care to protect your hearing.

Hearing Hazards Around Us

The majority of us are aware that noise is harmful to our hearing health. Hearing protection is routinely issued to employees who are on noisy job sites like construction and factory workers. Individuals who enjoy noisy hobbies like trap shooting or motorcycling or even race car driving, wear noise-cancelling headphones. Musicians wear custom earmolds to protect their hearing.

But some noise sources are unexpected, but they are still dangerous. Healthy Hearing did a survey of 169 U.S. residents about noise in their lives and the results came back that – we living in a very noisy world and noise damage can come from a variety of unexpected sources.

About 35% of the survey respondents said they would be going to a parade that summer with fun, candy, floats and – dangerously sirens and marching bands. Even spending a lot of time at the dog park or volunteering at an animal shelter could harm your hearing,

What is Too Loud?

Sound is measured decibels. The National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders indicates sound at a decibel level of 75 or lower is generally considered safe. Sounds over 85 decibels can cause noise induced hearing loss which is a permanent condition affecting as many as 40 million adult Americans. The louder the sound, the faster it can cause permanent hearing damage. As a point of reference, normal conversation registers at 60 decibels.

Unexpected Hazards

Most forms of transportation, that we use either for work or play, are noisy. Today’s car interiors are crafted to be quieter when the windows are up. Normal freeway traffic has been measured at 70 decibels, heavy traffic comes in at 85 decibels and motorcycle traffic measures at a hefty 100 decibels. Emergency vehicles with sirens on clock in at 115 decibels.

Every day drivers who have the windows up most of the time are fine, but cab and bus drivers who spend more time on the roadways could be susceptible to noise induced hearing loss. Traffic cops and street vendors would also be at risk.

Bark Could be Worse than Bite

Depending on the breed of dog, a bark can reach between 80 and 90 decibels. While your dog is not likely barking eight hours a day with you close by – kennel help, dog groomers and vet techs could be at risk to develop hearing loss due to noise. The sound level in a kennel can reach 115 decibels and clippers and blow dryers’ rate 100 decibels of noise.

Other Unexpected Hazards

Loud snoring can reach levels of 90 decibels. At least one study has found a relationship between snoring and noise induced hearing loss in the partners of chronic snorers.

A night out every now and then is great to help you relax, but bars and restaurants may be noisier than you think. A typical restaurant noise level is 80 decibels but some have been measured as high as 110 decibels. While patrons aren’t subjected to noise for overly long periods of time, wait and kitchen staff is in the noise for eight hours at a time. Noise levels at parades have been measured at over 90 decibels and fireworks explosions can go up to 150 decibels.

Guard Your Hearing

If you must be in a noisy environment, take frequent breaks and move away from the loudest noise source. Have a set of foam ear plugs, available at most drug stores, in your purse or car console in case you need them. If your workplace is noisy, invest in a pair of noise cancelling headphones.

Most importantly, get a hearing test at Professional Hearing Services. It will be your mind at ease if you think you could have hearing loss, and it will set a base level so you are aware if you do suffer some hearing loss.


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