We live in a loud world. We are constantly surrounded by noise—at home, while commuting, at work, and at play. As a culture that loves music, we often have those little buds shoved in our ears in an attempt to block out some of that outside noise. But what does all of that racket mean and is it damaging our hearing?
According to our ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialists, noise-induced hearing loss caused by noise pollution is currently a top health concern. As any AC/DC fan knows, loud rock shows have taken their toll on frontman Brian Johnson’s hearing, causing him to leave the tour under the advice of ENT doctors. But, it’s not just loud music, it is all of the outside stimuli that we face on a daily basis that is damaging our hearing.
According to MedicineNet, more than 30 million Americans are living with some form of hearing impairment that is at least partially caused by excessive noise exposure. Noise-related hearing loss can present in many ways including ringing in the ears, called tinnitus, occasional dizziness (vertigo), and even increased in heart rate and blood pressure.
While it may seem impossible to avoid loud noises, ENTs agree that there are signs you can look out for when you are in particular settings. The consensus is that continued exposure to sounds greater than 85 decibels is dangerous to the ears. Here are just some of the red flags to watch out for:
- If the noise you hear makes is difficult to talk, causing you to have to shout over the background noise.
- If the noise you are experiencing causes any pain in the ear or makes your ears ring.
- If you experience noise loud enough that is causes that loss of hearing for several hours after exposure.
If you work in manufacturing or construction or any other loud profession, always wear the appropriate ear protection, such as earplugs or earmuffs. And, ensure that your noise protection gear fits and functions properly so that you are getting the maximum benefit. At home, turn the TV and radio down, and never blast music in your earphones. While we cannot avoid noise entirely, we can take small measures to protect our precious hearing.
If you have any concerns about hearing loss or damage, contact our Southwest Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialists at (208) 336-4368 for an appointment.