Welcome to the Hearing Loss Prevention training video presented by the Department of Defense Hearing Center of Excellence. I’m Dr. Reynolds.
And I’m Dr. Matthews. We live in a noisy world. That’s why it’s so important to protect your ears from dangerous noise and prevent noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus.
Your hearing doesn’t have to diminish significantly as a result of working or playing in a hazardous noise environment. If you use protective measures, you can help preserve your hearing.
That’s right, Dr. Matthews. Protection is the key to lifelong hearing health. Protective measures that help prevent noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus are included in the EARS2U hearing loss prevention strategy:
- Educate yourself about hazardous noise
- Adjust the volume of your personal listening devices
- Recognize and reduce noise hazards
- Select and properly use hearing protection devices
- Seek annual hearing health services from an audiologist, and
- Understand the consequences of unprotected exposure to noise, and that it can cause permanent inner ear damage
Remember, caring properly for your ears is the best way to prevent hearing loss.
Basically, the louder the sound and the closer you are to the source of the sound, the quicker you can develop hearing loss and/or tinnitus. The intensity, or volume, of sound is measured in units called decibels.
For instance, sounds at or less than 75 decibels are less likely to cause hearing loss. But, long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss over time. Keep in mind that exposure to sounds above 120 decibels can result in immediate damage to your hearing.
It’s important to be aware of potentially harmful noise sources at work, at home, and in recreational settings. Take precautions to protect your ears from damage by using appropriate hearing protection devices and noise-control measures, and by avoiding places if the noise levels are too loud. Keep in mind there are many mobile applications and hand-held noise meters available that monitor noise levels.
A recent report on some of the noisiest occupations in the United States include:
- The military
- Mining, and
As Dr. Matthews mentioned, the military is one of the noisiest occupations. A number of sources on hearing conservation confirm the effect of military service on hearing. There’s a growing rate of noise-induced hearing loss among American service members and veterans.
Service-related occupational noise levels include:
- M113 Armored Personnel Carrier at 25 miles per hour: 118 decibels
- Jet engines: 150 decibels
- Gunfire: 160 decibels, and
- Bomb blasts: 175 decibels
You might be surprised at the high decibel levels of some common situations. Harmful noise exposure is not limited to work environments. Keep in mind that you can have exposure to hazardous noise levels at home and during recreational activities. Some common household and recreational noise levels include:
- A blender, power lawn mower, or chain saw: 85 – 110 decibels
- An impact wrench or motorcycle: 100 – 120 decibels
- Personal listening devices with headphones: 105 – 120 decibels
- Movie theaters: 118 decibels
- Health clubs and aerobic studios: 120 decibels, and
- Rock concerts, auto racing, or a hammer pounding a nail: 120 – 140 decibels
Noise can be defined as “sound of any kind.” And there are two types of noise exposure to consider: steady state and impulse.
Steady-state noise is continuous or repeated sound, such as the noise from a ship’s engines or music from your personal listening device.
Impulse noise is a high-level sudden, loud sound, such as an explosion or gun blast.
Too much sound or any sound that feels uncomfortably loud to you, whether it’s due to intensity or length of time can be damaging to your hearing.
Those are good points to remember about noise exposure, Dr. Matthews. So we should keep in mind that both steady-state and impulse noises can lead to noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus, if the noise is too loud, too close, or lasts too long.
If you have questions about your hearing or hearing loss prevention, contact your hearing health provider or audiologist for more information, or to schedule a hearing test.
You can also visit the DoD Hearing Center of Excellence web site at hearing.health.mil for more in-depth information about your hearing and hearing health.