Over time, prolonged exposure to high-intensity sounds can cause noise-induced hearing loss. This is an increasingly prevalent problem amongst all age groups and demographics.
There are two main categories of noise-induced hearing loss: occupational and recreational.
1. Occupational noise-induced hearing loss
Hearing loss brought on by a hazardous work environment is a serious health problem in Australia. Occupational hearing loss accounts for 10% of adult-onset hearing loss, and it has been estimated that about 12% of the workforce is repeatedly exposed to dangerous levels of noise. Some occupations are particularly notorious for causing hearing damage in workers:
- Airline ground maintenance
- Military service
- Jobs involving loud music
Because occupational hearing loss is a problem that progresses gradually, it is often not detected by workers until they have lost a significant amount of their hearing. Lack of knowledge about occupational hearing loss is another complicating factor, as those at risk often perceive hearing loss to be a less serious problem than it actually is.
2. Recreational noise-induced hearing loss
Hearing loss can also be caused by everyday recreational activities, such as:
- Listening to loud music using earphones
- Playing in a band
- Shooting and hunting
- Attending rock concerts
If you do any of these things on a regular basis, you are probably at risk of hearing loss.
Dangerous Noise levels
Noise levels are measured in decibels. A whisper is 30 decibels, a conversation is generally 60-65 decibels and a lawnmower is 100 decibels. Hearing loss can occur after sustained exposure to a decibel level of 85+.
A good rule of thumb to remember: if you have to raise your voice to be heard, you are being exposed to dangerous noise levels.
Thankfully, noise-induced hearing loss is preventable.
Earplugs are a fantastic way to reduce the impact of extremely loud noises. Specially moulded to fit the wearer’s ears, custom earplugs filter sound better than conventional plugs, making the environment quieter without muffling sound quality. They can also be designed to suit the needs of the wearer, as some need to block out louder noise than others.