Loud noises are part of our everyday lives. Whether you’re strolling down the sidewalk past a construction crew or you’re just jamming to your favorite playlist in your car, loud noises are everywhere.
To put these noises into context, let’s take a look at some examples and their approximate decibel levels:
- The refrigerator humming in your kitchen: 45 decibels
- The last conversation you had at work: 60 decibels
- Big city traffic: 85 decibels
- A motorcycle roaring down your street: 90 decibels
- Maxing out the volume on your MP3 player: 105 decibels
- Emergency sirens: 120 decibels
- Firearms: 150 decibels
It doesn’t take much to get to the highest levels! How long you are exposed to the sounds and how close you are to the sources will have an effect on how damaging they are to your hearing.
What Do High Noise Levels Do to the Ears?
When sounds enter the ear, they vibrate the eardrum and three teeny tiny bones: the malleus, the incus and the stapes. Those vibrations move to the inner ear, which is filled with fluid. That fluid picks up the vibrations and passes them along to the basilar membrane, which contain microscopic hair cells. When the vibrations hit these cells, they create an electrical signal that is transmitted to the brain by the auditory nerve. The brain then converts the vibrations into what we understand as sound. Impressive!
The microscopic hair cells in the ear are delicate, and when we are exposed to loud noises, they may be damaged. One they die off, they don’t grow back, and hearing loss is permanent.
Preventing Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Fortunately, preventing noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) isn’t hard. Take these steps to protect your hearing:
- Be aware of any noises that can damage your hearing. This will be anything above 85 decibels (and remember — big city traffic rises to that level!)
- Wear protective devices
- Move away from the noise when possible
- Get your hearing regularly tested by a professional if you experience loss or are frequently exposed to high levels of noise
Avoiding loud noises isn’t always possible. For people who work in construction, public works, manufacturing, transportation and other vital industries, loud noises are simply a matter of day-to-day life. That doesn’t mean hearing loss has to be.
We love Sonetics wireless headsets because they protect hearing without disconnecting you from your surroundings. With listen-through technology, you are in control of how much outside sound you let in for awareness and safety. You’ll always be protected with active noise suppression, but you can choose to raise or lower the amount of sound from the microphones for situational awareness. This remarkable technology allows you to hear what is important while protecting yourself from NIHL.