Why Use Hearing Protection?
Hearing is one of your five senses of sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. In many cases loss of hearing is often permanent and protecting your ears should be just as important as protecting your eyes. Children and young adults are especially susceptible to hearing loss if the inner ear is exposed to loud noises even the fireworks they love can harm infants and children’s hearing. Noise-induced hearing loss is one of the leading causes of hearing loss in the United States and it is a danger most adults ignore. Noise-induced hearing loss can come from prolonged exposure to loud sounds in the workplace, as well as everyday activities like attendance at sporting events, loud concerts and listening to loud music to name a few.
Hearing aids can definitely provide benefit to someone who has lost hearing due to noise-induced hearing loss but they cannot give you back your hearing to what it was when you were 20! Protecting your hearing is healthier, easier and cheaper than having a noise-induced hearing loss that would need to be treated with hearing aids. Protecting your hearing as part of your overall healthcare has many benefits as well. Untreated hearing loss can cause a slow shut down of the synapses in your brain leading to memory loss and balance issues not to mention the other medical issues directly related to hearing loss. Noise-induced hearing loss can even be the cause of that distracting buzzing or ringing in your ears called tinnitus. Please visit our Tinnitus page for more information on tinnitus treatments.
Here are the average decibel ratings of some familiar sounds:
|Noise||Average decibels (dB)|
|Leaves rustling, soft music, whisper||30dB|
|Average home noise||40dB|
|Normal conversation, background music||60dB|
|Office noise, inside car at 60 mph||70dB|
|Vacuum cleaner, average radio||75dB|
|Heavy traffic, window air conditioner, noisy restaurant, power lawn mower||80-89dB (sounds above 85 dB are harmful if heard on a continued basis over extended periods of time)|
|Subway, shouted conversation||90-95dB|
|Boom box, ATV, motorcycle||96-100dB|
|Chainsaw, leaf blower, snowmobile||106-115dB|
|Sports crowd, rock concert, loud symphony||120-129dB|
|Stock car races||130dB|
|Gun shot, siren at 100 feet||140dB|
What is There to Protect?
The ear has three main parts: the outer, middle, and inner ear. The outer ear, or the visible portion, opens into the ear canal, where your eardrum vibrates in response to sound waves in the air, and focuses the vibrations to your middle ear. In your middle ear, small bones transmit vibrations to the inner ear and become nerve impulses sent directly to your brain. While there are many types of hearing loss (some preventable and some genetic), one of the most avoidable is exposure to loud noises, which slowly damage and kill the nerve endings in the inner ear. Once dead, those nerve endings won’t reform and the vibrations around you won’t process all the way to your brain as sounds.
Even though this kind of hearing loss is preventable, the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery reports that 1 in 10 Americans suffer from hearing loss that impacts their ability to understand regular conversations at a normal speaking volume. At Windsor Audiology, we’d like to help reduce that number and give our patients the gift of healthy and full hearing throughout their life. We believe that starts with hearing protection education and hearing protection products from infancy onward.
Protection Methods and Products
Our products include child-size headphones that dampen noise in loud or busy areas that would overwhelm and harm the sensitive nerves in growing infants and toddlers. For concert going teens and young adults we have low cost disposable foam plugs that will allow them to hear the concert without the damaging and sometime painful effects of the average concert that can exceed 120dB. For adults, we can supply a variety of recreational and occupation-specific solutions that allow you to do the things you love while protecting one of your most important senses. Most of our options are custom fit for your ears only but we do have non-custom options. Because noise-induced hearing loss is one of the leading causes of hearing loss in the United States, yet it is the only preventable type of hearing loss, Dr. Johnson offers custom-filtered hearing protection for hunters; molded custom earplugs for showering, swimming, and water sports; earplugs and headphones designed for construction workers and those in other noisy occupations; sleep plugs for those with a snoring spouse; and more.
In particular, musicians face a challenge in that they need to hear sound accurately, but every time they pick up their instrument to play, they are exposed to a high decibel level. Our musician earplugs help prevent exposure to loud decibels with a flat attenuation that does not affect the quality of the music. Custom in-ear monitors are available to enhance the music experience while performing and retain every note without the risk of hearing loss. They come in a variety of filters depending on your instrument and are customizable to your own style with everything from glitter to swirled colors.