Things to Know about Hearing and Hearing Loss
- About 17 percent of adults in the United States, 36 million, report some degree of hearing loss.
- 60 percent of the people with hearing loss are either in the work force or in educational settings.
- Hearing loss is a major health issue that is the third most common physical condition after arthritis and heart disease.
- In adults, the most common causes of hearing loss are noise and aging.
- Noise-induced hearing loss may happen slowly overtime or suddenly. Being exposed to everyday sound, such as listening to very loud music can lead to hearing loss over many years.
- Noise-induced hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss in our society and it’s completely preventable.
- Tiny hair cells in the ear are damaged when assaulted by loud noise. Once those hair cells are destroyed they cannot be replaced.
- Repeated and lengthy exposure to loud sound—whether it is music or a jackhammer—will eventually produce hearing loss.
Musicians are particularly at risk of hearing loss. It is their job to listen to the sounds that they and their group are producing, and these may be as high as 135 dB. They have no choice to do this as this is their career and livelihood. Musician’s earplugs are available that can help. The newest and best versions reduce the sound equally all across the spectrum, from low to high frequencies. Everything sounds just as good as it did before, only softer.
Your ears can be your warning system for potentially dangerous noises. The noise is too loud when:
- You have to raise your voice to be understood by someone standing nearby
- The noise hurts your ears
- You develop a buzzing or ringing sound in your ears, even temporarily (This indicates that some hair cells have died.)
How to Protect Yourself When Around Loud Noise
- Block the noise (wear earplugs or earmuffs)
- Avoid the noise
- Turn down the volume