Keeping it real and using science to explain

Exposed to loud noise? Science has a reason that earplugs matter

listening to loud music

 What are people doing?

Listening to loud noise without ear plugs.

Why do they do that?

Loud and low- frequency sound, such as a base sound from a boom-box, stimulates the sacculus, a tiny organ in the inner ear that has a neural connection to those parts of our brain associated with reward and pleasure. It’s why people love to blast their music. According to electrical engineer and author, Dr. Barry Bessler, “Raising the loudness of the music, like a double shot of whiskey, elevates the intensity of the experience.”

What they should be told

Hearing loss doesn’t just happen to old men who use power tools. Exposure to loud noise is the most common reason that One out of 10 Americans today have trouble understanding normal speech.

The argument is that the majority or adolescent and their parents- who should be modeling how to protect one’s hearing- don’t wear earplugs when they go to concerts or festivals. Think: Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels listen to a rock concert.

What it takes to lose your hearing

Very little. So hear this: sound pressure in air is measured in decibels (dB’s). The lowest sound is barely audible, almost silent and measured at zero dB. A whisper is 30 dB and having a conversation is 60db.

Every 10 dB increase is heard ten times louder than the sound before. So prolonged exposure to anything over 85dB starts to become damaging to your ears. For instance, maxing out your MP3 player at 105 dB, or sitting in a sports crowd or rock concert is a blast at 120-129 dB

Don’t try this at home.

Acoustic trauma and permanent hearing loss can occur from short-term exposure to 140 dB or more from noises not more than 100 feet away, such as rock music at its peak.

How will you know your causing damage?

People who roll up their car windows while stuck listening to your music at a stoplight could be a clue. But the truth is that you may not know until it is too late.

According to The National Institute of Health (NIH), “Noise-induced hearing loss is cumulative, invisible, and permanent. It’s cumulative because the damage can start when we are young and get worse over time. It’s invisible because it can happen without our even noticing it until it’s too late, and it’s permanent because, unlike a broken arm that gets better over time, we can’t “heal” our hearing. Once it’s damaged, it’s damaged for good.”

What can be done to help?

Turn it to the left. Turn down your music to 60% of the maximum volume is a guideline recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). And limit your listening time to 60 minutes or less.

Wearing ear plugs can prevent hearing loss and tinnitus or ringing in the ears. If you are regularly exposed to loud noise, keeping a set of ear plugs handy in the glove compartment of your car or your wallet is one way of making sure you always have ear protection.

For parents of rock-stars in the making, Listen to Your Buds, is a campaign to educate both parents and kids on safe listening habits while using personal audio devices.

And If you think you may have a hearing problem, get evaluated by a certified audiologist.

One more time, please repeat that?

Ok…Again, people are not aware of the benefits of earplugs. If they were, we would have fewer people shouting, “WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?”





6 thoughts on “Exposed to loud noise? Science has a reason that earplugs matter”

  1. Thanks, Cynthia! I notice that I am saying “What?” more! I love the loud music in my zumba class and can totally relate to the increasing intensity of the experience you reference. I’m going to be more mindful of using earplugs especially when I’m near the speaker.

    1. thehealthscope says:

      Beth, I “hear” you! Damage to our hearing really creeps up on us. I started using earplugs around loud sounds years ago after noticing I needed to turn up the volume on the T.V. I don’t want to be totally deaf in my old age! Thanks for visiting!

  2. When I worked on inpatient psych, it was my sole focus to keep the noise down on the unit. Now… that noise certainly wasn’t ear piercing, life threatening sound. But when we had the engineers come in with their sound meters… it was amazing to me JUST how loud it got, simply from the staff conversation and nurses station noise. Thanks for sharing the information on this important topic. Sharing!

    1. thehealthscope says:

      Elizabeth, there are so many environments that are so loud that we don’t realize that the noise is actually damaging our hearing. Especially noisy restaurants. I have started to walk out of the ones where I can’t hear the conversation of the person sitting next to me without us shouting at one another. It’s like sun damage, it becomes additive over time. And the unfortunate thing is that hearing aids can’t really correct that loss completely. Thanks for visiting!

  3. A couple of noise related pet peeves! Leave blowers!!! In Florida, it seems to be a lawn care essential. Blow the leaves (with loud blower) from one side of the street to the other.

    Also, in the movies…often the volume is overpowering. I guess what I am saying is that insults to our hearing are coming from many places.

    1. thehealthscope says:

      Donna, agreed! I have actually brought ear plugs to this one movie theatre that blasts their sound system much louder than others. I think the key is to avoid noisy venues or bring ear plugs everywhere just in case! Thank you for visiting!

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