We are surrounded by noise! We hear loud noises at school, home, concerts, sporting events, and just about anywhere else.
Sound can be detrimental when it is too noisy, even for a short time, such as an emergency services siren passing by. Noise can also be harmful when it is both raucous and prolonged, such as the music in your headphones when the volume is too high.
How do you know when the volume is too loud? Sound is measured in units called decibels (dB), just as height is measured in feet or inches. Because people can’t hear all frequencies, or pitches of sound, A-weighted decibels (dBA) can be used to describe sound based on what human ears can actually hear. Sounds at or below 70 dBA are generally considered safe. Any sounds at or over 85 dBA are more likely to damage your hearing over time.
For example, a normal conversation is around 60-70 dBA, and fireworks are often 160 dBA.
What can loud sounds do to your hearing?
Noise-induced hearing loss happens when tiny hair-like structures (called stereocilia, pronounced STARE-ee-oh-SILL-ee-ah) that sit on top of hair cells in your inner ear are damaged or destroyed by noises that are too loud and/or last for too long. This type of hearing loss is permanent.
You can prevent noise-induced hearing loss!
You can prevent hearing loss from noise in three ways:
- Lower the volume.
- Move away from the noise.
- Wear hearing protectors, such as earplugs.
If you practice these healthy habits now, you can help protect your amazing sense of hearing!