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How Loud is Too Loud?

Any exposure to loud noises can damage your hearing and odds are, that’s not news to you. However, that is not the entire story. If you are interested in protecting your ears from noise-induced harm, you may be wondering exactly what volumes or kinds of sounds can be damaging. After all, exposure to loud noises is an unavoidable part of most people’s lives, so when should we be especially vigilant to protect our ears?

Hearing health experts have established the range which an average person can hear, from the barely audible to the uncomfortably loud. Let’s take a closer look at this range, and hopefully learn a few new facts about how best to protect our precious hearing.

The Sound Spectrum

In the measuring system used by most ENT specialists, the point labeled “zero decibels” does not actually represent a lack of sound. It represents the lowest volume that the average healthy ear can perceive. As the number of decibels increases, sounds become exponentially louder. These everyday examples can give you a better idea of how this decibel range works:

  • 0 dB is the lowest audible sound (Safe)
  • 20 dB is a whispering voice (Safe)
  • 60 dB is normal conversation (Safe)
  • 85 dB would be heavy traffic (Can become dangerous with continuous exposure)
  • 95 dB might be lawn mowers (Can become dangerous with more than 2 hours of exposure)
  • 110 dB would be a loud concert (Can become dangerous with ½ hour of exposure)
  • 120 dB would be an ambulance siren (Can become dangerous with 15 minutes of exposure)

As you can see, many things that are a regular part of our lives (concerts, traffic noise, sirens, lawn mowers, etc.) pose a very real risk to our ability to hear. Being aware of those dangers is half the battle. The other half is making sure you wear some kind of ear plugs or other protective device to shield your ears from dangerous volume levels.

Contact Shea Clinic Ear Nose & Throat!

Sadly, noise-induced hearing loss is usually permanent. The good news is that it does not need to interfere with your relationships or career. To find out more about your or a loved one’s hearing loss, give us a call at Shea Clinic Ear Nose & Throat at (901) 761-9720 and we’ll get you on a journey to better hearing!

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