Everyday Activities That Could Harm Your Hearing

Everyday Activities That Could Harm Your Hearing

We absorb a range of sounds everyday. From mundane background noise like an a/c unit or traffic, to listening to music, and watching tv – sound is so much a part of daily life.  Did you know that some of the noise we experience regularly can actually damage hearing? Loud noise is a common cause of hearing loss, one of the most pervasive medical conditions people experience today. Nearly 1 in 6 people have some degree of hearing loss which reduces capacity to hear and process speech as well as sound. It is important to be aware hte the everyday activities that you participate in which can impact hearing health. Practicing safety measures can protect hearing and overall wellness. 

Noise Induced Hearing Loss 

One time or regular exposure to loud noise can damage hearing health. Loud noise can irreparably damage the hair cells in the inner ear. These sensory cells are integral to the auditory system – the sensory system for hearing. Hair cells, located in the cochlea, help convert incoming sound waves into electrical signals. These signals get carried to the brain and specific portions of the brain then further process these signals. This includes assigning meaning to them which is how we are able to understand what we hear. 

Loud noise can cause hair cells to become desensitized which reduces their capacity to function. Desensitization also makes these cells incredibly vulnerable to dying  which completely prevents them from processing soundwaves. This results in the brain receiving less auditory information, forcing the brain to search for sound signals which results in various symptoms. Hair cells in the inner ear, unlike other types of cells we have, do not regenerate. This means that any damage they sustain is permanent, producing chronic hearing loss. 

Everyday Activities that are Hazardous 

There are daily activities that we engage in that you may not know may be putting your hearing at risk. Examples of these everyday activities include the following: 

  1. Household appliances: various household appliances that you may use daily produce noise near or above 85dB. This includes: 
  • blenders, food processors – up to 100dB
  • power tools: drills, chainsaw etc. – up to 110dB
  • lawn mower, leaf blower, vacuum cleaner, hair dryer: up to 90dB
  1. Social activities: social activities and settings are also another source of loud noise exposure. Examples include: 
  • parties, loud restaurants, bars: can be between 85-90dB
  • attending a game in a sports arena or concert in a stadium: up to 110dB
  1. Electronic devices: listening to audio – music, podcasts, audiobook etc. – is another common source of loud noise exposure. Using earbuds or headphones that are connected to a device like your phone can actually reach up to 100dB at the highest volume setting.
  2. Work environment: the Hearing Health Foundation estimates that over 22 million people are exposed to hazardous levels of noise at work. Noisy work settings range from construction sites, to transportation hubs, restaurants etc. 

These daily activities expose people to levels of sound that can significantly affect hearing. But how loud is too loud exactly?

How Loud is Too Loud?

Understanding how loud sound has to be to impact your hearing can better help you protect your ears. Sound is measured in decibels (dB) and noise near and above 85dB can be hazardous for hearing health. This is equivalent to busy city traffic, a noisy restaurant during peak hours, and a hair dryer! People can be exposed to 85dB of sound for 8 hours a day without risking their hearing but anything beyond this can be impactful. 

Experts recommend that for sound that surpassesses 85dB, exposure time should be reduced by half for every 3 decibel increase of sound. According to guidelines outlined by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OHSA) for safe listening, exposure time to sound should be within the following ranges: 

  • 85dB: 8 hours 
  • 88dB: 4 hours 
  • 91dB: 2 hours 
  • 94dB: 30min

Prolonged exposure to noise beyond these safety thresholds can put hearing at risk and contribute to the development of noise induced hearing loss. This highlights the importance of practicing safety measures to protect your hearing.  

Tips to Protect Hearing Health 

There are numerous ways you can protect your hearing health. A few tips include: 

  • Wear hearing protection like headphones or earbuds which reduce the amount of loud noise you absorb. 
  • Take listening breaks throughout the day which give your ears time to rest. 
  • Maintain low volume settings on your electronic devices. 
  • Have you hearing tested regularly which can help you track your hearing health. 

Contact us today to learn more about how you can prioritize your hearing health and prevent the development of noise induced hearing loss.