How much noise is too much noise?

Your favorite song comes on the radio, so you crank up the volume to blast the music and sing out loud at the top of your lungs. Are you aware of the damage this can cause your ears?

In general, everyone is exposed to sounds in their everyday environment at a safe level, but if the noises are too loud, they can be harmful. If someone is around a noise that is too loud, even for a brief amount of time, they can damage sensitive structures in their inner ear and cause noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).

What is NIHL?
NIHL is damage to the inner ear caused by loud noises for a brief moment or over a great length of time. It can be temporary or permanent and can affect one or both ears.

Who is affected by NIHL?
People of all ages can develop NIHL, including children, teenagers, adults and elderly people.

What causes NIHL?
A variety of loud noises can cause NIHL, whether it’s a onetime sound or consistent over a long period of time. There are many noises that can cause NIHL such as:

  • Working in an industrial setting using loud machines
  • Target shooting
  • Listening to music at a high volume through earbuds or head phones

Ear buds

  • Playing in a band
  • Loud bursts of sound, such as gun shorts or explosions

There is good news though—NIHL is the only kind of hearing loss that can be prevented. You can protect your hearing for life if you understand the hazards of noise and practice safe hearing.

Here are a few ways to prevent NIHL:

  • Wear protective devices in your ears such as earplugs when around loud activity.

Ear plug

  • Remove yourself from the loud noises if possible.
  • Be alert to hazardous noises in the environment.
  • Have your hearing tested if you think you think you might have hearing loss.

For more information on NIHL, click here.