A Guide for Safe Hearing From Trusted Professionals
Pueblo Hearing Aid in Pueblo and Canon City, Colorado, offers professional solutions and education to help you protect and enhance your hearing. Our services include hearing health checkups as well as education about protecting your hearing health and the kinds of hearing aids that would be best for you. We strive to keep up with what’s new so our patients have access to the most cutting-edge technology.
What Is a Sound Decibel?
Essentially, a decibel is the unit of measurement that tells us how loud a sound is. It is abbreviated “dB” when expressed in writing. Sound decibels are measured on a scale, but A-weighted decibels (abbreviated as dBA) give a more comprehensive picture of how loud different sounds are in relation to the sounds around us. This shows us the measure of a sound in the air the way our ears hear it, not just how loud it is in general.
How Sound Is Measured
Decibels are a unit of measurement, but what exactly are they measuring? Sound is produced in waves, and decibels are a measure of the different waves. Higher waves indicate louder sounds and higher decibel measurements.
A professional decibel reader is often used to read sound decibels, but in today’s world of innovative technology, there are many apps that can help you read sound decibels right from your smartphone using the phone’s microphone. The more sensitive your microphone, the more accurate the readings will be.
What Is the Sound Decibel Limit?
Generally, sounds that measure more than 70dB on the decibel scale can harm your hearing over time. Sounds above this level, like a noisy restaurant (approximately 85dB), food processor (approximately 95dB), or a hairdryer (approximately 90dB) aren’t likely to cause hearing injury the very first time you experience them. Prolonged exposure definitely plays a part in noise induced hearing damage (NIHD).
Most decibel scales go up to 120dB (police siren) or even 140dB (gunshot) but the safe level for prolonged or repeated exposure is still at or below 70dB. If you will be around sounds that are higher than this level, it is a good idea to wear ear protection.
Factors Influencing Hearing Damage
The sound level being above 70dB doesn’t automatically cause NIHD. You don’t damage your hearing every time you use a hairdryer or spend time in a noisy restaurant. Extremely loud sounds (like a gunshot or explosion) can damage your hearing right away.
Your proximity to the loud noise matters. For example, a gunshot may be 140dB and able to cause NIHD right away, but if you’re not in close proximity to the sound, that may not be the case. You can watch a short fireworks show from a safe distance or listen to live music.
The amount of time you spend in close proximity to the noise will also determine if you develop NIHD. Listening to one song close to the stage may not damage your hearing, but watching the entire concert at that distance probably will. Hearing one firework go off close by isn’t likely to damage your hearing, but NIHD is nearly guaranteed if you’re standing next to a long fireworks show without taking any precautions.
Tips to Protect Your Hearing From Loud Sounds
The best way to protect your hearing from loud sounds is simply to stay away from them. Lack of exposure means less risk that you’ll experience NIHD. If you come across a loud sound like a lawn mower or construction work outside, walk past it or close your windows if it’s one of your neighbors. If you go to a concert, don’t stay up front by the speakers.
Reduce your risk of exposure to loud sounds by also wearing proper ear protection. If you’re the one operating the lawn mower, wear protective gear over your ears. If you’re going to a concert and you know the music will be very loud no matter where you stand, bring appropriate ear plugs that will reduce the decibel level that you’ll be exposed to while at the concert.
Consider the factors: decibel level of the sound, length of exposure time, and proximity to exposure. Protect your ears from these factors, and you’ll reduce the risk of damage.
Get Your Ear Health Checked
If you’re not sure if you have NIHD, come to Pueblo Hearing Aid in Pueblo and Canon City, Colorado, to have your ear health checked. Our professionals are standing by to book your appointment!