Loud sound can be a dangerous thing to the integrity of our ears. The louder the sound, the less time you can be around the noise without having a permanent, damaging effect on your hearing. OSHA states that exposure to 85 dB of noise for more than 8 hours per day can cause hearing damage. Once you hit 90dB, which is about the level of a lawn mower, 2.5 hours of exposure can cause hearing damage. The average rock concert is about 120 dB (depending on how close you are to the speakers), and can cause damage in less than 10 seconds. A gun shot, which can reach over 140 dB, can cause instant, permanent damage.
Sometimes people experience what is called a temporary threshold shift, where your ears are attempting to protect themselves by not letting as much sound in. However, when this occurs, you are generally around damaging levels of noise that can cause permanent hearing loss over time. So even when your hearing comes back to “normal,” it may not be completely normal, or it may have sustained irreversible damage.
This being said, we cannot always avoid these types of loud situations. Wearing hearing protection can lower the level of the sound reaching your ear, and thus prolong the amount of time you can spend in that situation without causing damage to you hearing. Disposable hearing protection can be fairly effective in protecting your ears, if inserted correctly (though many times, they are not. However, custom hearing protection is made specifically to fit your ears, thus increasing the level of noise you can safely be exposed to. There are also many options for filtering sound in different environments.
- Musician’s plugs have interchangeable filters that filter sound in such a way as to preserve the spectrum of the acoustics, while still lowering the sound level.
- Hunter’s plugs can help to filter out impact noise, and can even be used to amplify sound while stocking, and still act as hearing protection when making a shot.
- Swimmers or surfer’s plugs help to keep water from hitting the ear.
There are also plugs specific to motorcyclists, plugs that have monitors in them to allow for radio use, sleeping plugs, in ear monitors, and many others.
If you or a loved one would like to learn more about the custom hearing protection options available, contact our office for more information.