How Loud is Too Loud?

This is an exciting time for basketball and hockey fans! We are amid playoffs and this includes either inviting people over or getting together with friends at a local sports pub to cheer on your team. These listening environments are often quite loud with everyone talking and cheering at the same time, so we are often yelling at each other to just carry on a basic conversation. Is this too loud? Are we risking permanent hearing loss? We measure noise levels in decibels (dB). The softest a healthy ear can hear is 0dB at each tested frequency or pitch. You can be in 85 dB of noise for 8 hours before risking permanent damage. For every 3dB we go louder, we cut the time in half that we can be exposed safely. Ambient room noise would be about 25-30dB. People conversing about 3 feet apart in a quiet room ranges from 50-60dB, yelling is about 70dB. Busy city traffic registers at about 85dB. When we think about what nature intended our ears to handle, we are meant to hear people whisper, talk, shout, and sing. Nature never intended on traffic noise, music blasted over a loud sound system, or heavy machinery and equipment rattling our eardrums. Most concerts, dance clubs, construction/factory noises can reach as loud as 100dB which means you can only spend about 15 min in that environment safely before permanent damage occurs. Protecting your hearing, even by a little, helps more than you may realize. If you can decrease the volume of what is hitting your eardrum by 3-5 dB, you are able to double the time you can be in that environment safely. This would be comparable to having tissue in your ears in a pinch to increase the safe time allowed in 100dB to 30 min rather than 15 min. Foam yellow plugs, when inserted correctly, attenuates by about 40dB. You can purchase custom noise plugs for about $200-300 for a pair. This is beneficial if you want to be sure you get a tight seal every time. Custom musicians plugs have various filters depending on how much attenuation you need so you can still hear conversation without damaging your hearing over time with loud music. The numbers listed on noise plugs indicate how much attenuation it provides. ER-20, for example, gives 20dB of protection from noise. If you do not protect your hearing, you may never hear the sound of silence again as you are impacted by constant tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Hearing aids may be able to make a beautiful amplified sound, however with damaged nerves, the message from the ear to the brain is garbled and damaged. There is no cure for tinnitus or noise induced hearing loss, only prevention. If you want to find out more about noise inducted hearing loss, hearing protection, or applying for compensation for work related hearing loss, feel free to call or text 905-929-4327 for more information.

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