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Hearing is a fascinating part of the human experience. The magic of sounds like live music, waves crashing
and even human voice are all thanks to our ability to hear. But, just like too much of any good thing, too much sound is dangerous.
Human ears are lined with tiny hair cells that help to carry the vibrations of sound waves from our ears into our brains, which then turns the vibrations into a sound we can recognize. Loud noises are harmful to theses hairs and will eventually kill them. Human hair cells can’t grow back, so once they’ve died they’re gone forever, and they take your hearing with them.
Irreversible ear damage happens when we expose ourselves to loud noises over a long period of time, and powerful noises can even cause serious damage after just a one-time exposure.
Most people make themselves susceptible to hearing damage every day without even realizing it. Some of the most common noises that lead to hearing damage or loss include:
People who work in factories, construction, or similar noisy environments are at especially high risk for hearing damage. If you’re around loud machines at work, make sure to check that your company’s hearing protection regulations are up to date. You should also consider wearing ear plugs or OSHA-certified noise canceling headphones every day.
OSHA mandates a limit of 85 dBA to employees over an 8-hour period to ensure that long-term hearing loss is limited for workers in industrial jobs. While industrial soundproof curtains may benefit around loud machinery, an acoustic consultant should be brought in for complex industrial applications that have multiple noise sources and transient noise levels.
Concerts and Loud Music
Listening to loud music and regularly attending concerts takes a toll on your ears. If you want to be able to enjoy music for your entire life, turn the volume down now, especially when you’re wearing headphones and next time you head to a Metallica concert think about bringing along some ear plugs designed for live music.
Sports fans have a bit of a reputation for being noisy, and in the case of events like NASCAR, the sport itself can be loud too. If you’re a big sports fan, you may want to consider catching the game on TV every once in a while.
Motorcycles, Speed Boats, Jet-Skis
Adrenaline junkies are big risk takers – but you shouldn’t be taking any risks with your hearing. Try to use this type of equipment sparingly, and make sure to wear some noise-canceling headphones when you do.
Guns are loud, no surprise there. Most shooting ranges will require visitors to wear a pair of headphones while shooting and will often even provide them. If this is a regular weekend activity for you, you may want to invest in your own pair of quality, noise-canceling headphones.
Hearing damage tends to happen slowly, so it’s important to check in on it consistently. Schedule regular hearing checks with your doctor and always be on the look-out for warning signs. Things like ringing noises in your ears and muffled hearing at a noise level you used to be fine with are warning signs that should be taken seriously.