Say What? It’s National Protect Your Hearing Month!

HowLoudChartMany of us assume that noise-induced hearing loss is just something that happens to all of us. Others assume it only happens to older people. What if I told you that noise-induced hearing loss is on the rise in school-aged children? And would it surprise you if I told you that this type of hearing loss is 100-percent preventable?

As a parent, I can tell you that this topic is incredibly important. Since noise-induced hearing loss is preventable, we’ve got to educate ourselves and be aware of the sounds around to understand what is too loud. As October is National Protect Your Hearing Month, I feel there’s no time like the present to start learning about how to prevent hearing loss.

Every day we have common experiences where noise levels are dangerous to our hearing, yet most of us aren’t thinking about how to protect our hearing or the hearing of our children. We are always reminding our kids to buckle their seat belts, but we seldom remind them to protect their hearing.

According to the National Institute of Health, it’s not just the exposure to the occasionally loud siren blast or other extremely loud noise that can cause damage to our hearing, It’s the constant exposure to noises over 85 decibels, which isn’t very loud. A normal conversation measures about 60 decibels. Prolonged exposure to sound levels above 85 decibels can cause noise-induced hearing loss. And once it’s gone,.it’s gone.

Most of our kids listen to their music with their ear buds in their ears at levels that are 85 decibels or higher. Take extra precautions. Concentrated sound from this type of equipment is more likely to damage your child’s hearing than just listening to music in a room, because when listening to music in a room, much of the surroundings — like carpet, furniture, and walls — absorb the sound. With headphones or ear buds, the frequencies go directly into the ears.

If you can hear the song your child is listening to, it’s too loud. To establish some rules, set the volume at a reasonable level and insist that your child keep it at that level. Be consistent with this rule. If it’s broken, a privilege will be lost. In the long run, protecting your child’s hearing is more important.

Along with protecting our kids’ hearing, it’s important to think about your own. As adults, we’re exposed to noise, too. In fact, I recently did a little experiment to see what my exposure to noise was. I measured it with an SPL meeting app on my iPhone. I found the results pretty interesting.

After work on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I attend a weightlifting class at a local gym. The music is set a reasonable level, however the instructor’s microphone hit over 90 decibels in every class I attended. This is way too loud. As I mentioned earlier, damage to your hearing can start at 85 decibels if exposed for longer than 15 minutes. Since this class lasts an hour, my hearing was at risk.

Personally, I now carry a couple of pairs of ear plugs with me at all times. One pair I bought at a music store for under $20 and the other I had made with a kit that I ordered online; it’s custom-made for my ears. I  went to an IMAX movie one evening and the room was full of young kids. During the start of the movie, the theater was way too noisy, so I pulled out some ear protection and wore them throughout the movie. I was able to hear just fine for the entire film.

Over the weekend, I also went to a local venue to hear some live music. Honestly, it was just way too loud for me. Even with ear protection, I couldn’t enjoy it, so I left.

These sorts of experiences are common, and yet most of us don’t even think about protecting our hearing or our kids’ hearing. I urge you to be more aware of the noise around you and your families. Tell your kids to turn down the volume in their headphones and ear buds and make sure you’re protecting your own hearing. We must be aware that noise-induced hearing loss is preventable.

Cory Schaeffer

About Cory Schaeffer

Cory is Director of Systems Solutions for QSC. She serves on the Board of Listen Technologies, which she co-founded in 1998. She previously served on the Board of Directors for InfoComm International. Cory is passionate about the industry and developing and nurturing relationships to connect people to positive experiences. She lives in Santa Barbara, California.

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