You ever go to the beach and noticed one of those “Beware of Shark” warning signs? It’s easy to understand that you shouldn’t ignore a warning like that. You might even rethink swimming at all with a sign like that (if the warning is written in big red letters that’s especially true). Inexplicably, though, it’s difficult for people to pay attention to warnings concerning their hearing in the same way.
Current research has found that millions of individuals ignore warning signs regarding their hearing (this research specifically looked at populations in the United Kingdom, but there’s no doubt the concern is more global than that). Knowledge is a big part of the issue. Fear of sharks is rather instinctive. But fear of loud noise? And the real question is, what’s too loud?
Loud And Dangerous Sound is All Around us
It’s not just the rock concerts or the machine shop floors that are dangerous to your ears (although both of those venues are, indeed, hazardous to your hearing). Many common sounds can be hazardous. That’s because exposure time is as dangerous as the volume. Your hearing can be harmed with even low level noises like dense city traffic if you’re exposed to it for more than a couple of hours at a time.
Read on to find out when sound gets too loud:
- 30 dB: This is the sound level you would find in everyday conversation. You should be perfectly fine around this level for an indefinite length of time.
- 80 – 85 dB: An air conditioner, dense traffic, and lawn equipment are at this volume. After about two hours this level of sound becomes damaging.
- 90 – 95 dB: A motorcycle is a practical illustration of this sound level. This level of exposure gets harmful in as little as 50 minutes of exposure.
- 100 dB: An oncoming subway train or a mid-sized sports event are at this volume (depending on the city, of course). This volume can get hazardous after 15 minutes of exposure.
- 110 dB: Do you ever turn the volume on your earpods up as high as it will go? On most smartphones, that’s right around this level. This amount of exposure becomes dangerous after only 5 minutes of exposure.
- 120 dB and over: Immediate pain and injury can happen at or above this level (think about an arena sized sports event or rock show).
What Does 85 Decibels Sound Like?
In general, you should consider anything 85 dB or higher as putting your hearing at risk. The problem is that it isn’t always clear just how loud 85 dB is. It’s not tangible in the way that a shark is tangible.
And hearing cautions commonly get neglected because of this when the sound environment isn’t loud enough to cause pain, this is specifically true. There are a couple of possible solutions to this:
- Get an app: Your ears can’t be immediately safeguarded with an app. But there are a number of free apps that can function as sound level monitors. It’s hard to determine what 85 dB feels like so your ears can be injured without you even realizing it. Using this app to monitor sound levels, then, is the answer. Using this method will make it more instinctual to distinguish when you are going into the “danger zone”. (Or, the app will merely tell you when things get too noisy).
- Suitable signage and training: This especially refers to the workplace. The real risks of hearing loss can be reinforced by signage and training (and the advantages of hearing protection). Signage could also let you know just how noisy your workplace is. Training can help employees know when hearing protection is needed or suggested.
If You’re in Doubt, Protect Yourself
Apps and signage aren’t a foolproof solution. So if you’re in doubt, take the time to safeguard your ears. Over a long enough period of time, noise damage will almost certainly create hearing issues. And it’s easier than ever to damage your ears (all you have to do is turn your headphone volume up a little too loud).
You shouldn’t raise the volume past mid way, particularly if you’re listening all day. You need noise blocking headphones if you are constantly turning up the volume to block out background noise.
So when volume becomes too loud, it’s important to accept it. Raising your own knowledge and awareness is the answer if you want to do that. Safeguarding your ears, using earplugs, earmuffs, or decreasing your exposure, is easy enough. But you have to recognize when to do it.
Nowadays that should also be easier. That’s even more true now that you have some awareness.
Schedule a hearing exam today if you think you might be suffering from hearing loss.