Concert goers: protect those ears!

Being the Live-Music capital of the world has its perks ranging from the types of music fans get hear, to the unique venues that host these talented musicians.  But getting up close and listening too long may damage your hearing – permanently.

ADC Audiologist, Janet Davila, AuD, CCC-A spoke with KXAN’s Gigi Barnett about how loud is too loud and how to protect your hearing (and your child’s) during live music events like ACL and SXSW.  Check out the interview above or the information below from Dr. Davila.

What is Noise Induced Hearing Loss?

Noise induced hearing loss occurs when sound levels are loud enough to cause damage or even death of the nerve cells in the cochlea (organ of hearing).

These delicate nerve cells, called outer hair cells, will move and pulsate to the sound vibrations that travel through the ear and allow us to hear sounds.

Noise induced hearing loss affects both adults and children. It is estimated that at least 15 % of adults between the ages of 20 and 69 (26 million) have hearing loss caused by noise exposure at work or during recreational activities. ( Moreover, approximately 16% of teens, aged 12 to 19 years have reported  hearing loss that was likely caused by loud noise (Survey, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010).

How Loud is Too Loud?

Sounds 85 decibels and above are loud enough to cause damage to hearing, but the length of exposure to the sound is also a key factor. In addition, the decibel scale is a logarithmic scale, so every doubling of a decibel is a huge change in the power of the sound.  Every 3 decibel increase is a “doubling” of the power of the sound. The chart below shows the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health permissible exposure time to continuous exposure of sounds at various decibel levels before damage to hearing occurs.

*NIOSH and CDC 2002

Permissible Exposure Time            Decibel Level, continuous exposure

8 hrs                                                     85 dB

4 hrs                                                     88 dB

2 hrs                                                     91 dB

1 hrs                                                     94 dB

30 min                                                 97 dB

15 min                                                100 dB

7.5 min                                               103 dB

3.75 min                                             106 dB

>2 min                                                109 dB

1 min                                                   112 dB

30 seconds                                        115 dB

(adapted from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders website sited at  www.noisehelp.com)

What Are Some Everyday Sounds and Noise Levels?

Rock Concert at peak              150 dB

Jet airplane                                140 dB

Shot gun                                      140 dB

Lawnmower                                90 dB

Vacuum cleaner                        70 dB

Library                                        30 – 40 dB

Whisper                                       30 dB

(Adapted from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders website sited at www.noisehelp.com)

How Do We Protect Our Ears?

You can protect your ears from noise induced hearing loss by using hearing protection such as foam ear plugs, custom made earplugs, custom made musician’s filtered ear plugs, or ear muffs.  There are also noise protection ear muffs for infants and young children available online at Westone.com or even at Amazon.com

At ADC Audiology, we offer custom made musician’s filtered ear plugs, custom made solid earplugs (for maximum protection) and specialized earplugs for  recreational shooting and hunting. We also offer custom sleep earplugs for those needing to cut out the noise of  a partner who snores!

Additionally, parents may want to consider purchasing headphones that  regulate the volume levels of their child’d I-pod or MP3 players. These headphones control the volume such that the child may turn their player up to maximum volume, but the headphones regulate  the volume so that it never reaches dangerous levels.  These can be obtained through Westone.com

Helpful Websites:

  • dangerousdecibels.org – An interactive website for children and teens.
  • www.noisehelp.com – A good website for adults to learn more about noise induced hearing loss and dangerous noise levels.
  • www.nidcd.nih.gov – A government supported website for adults to learn more facts about the normal and disordered processes of hearing, balance, taste, smell, voice, speech, and language.