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Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer, and we’re ready! Racing, baseball, traveling, live music, cookouts – we love it all! May is also Better Hearing and Speech month, so we want to take this opportunity to remind our community about the importance of protecting your hearing.

An estimated one in 10 Americans is living with hearing loss that affects their ability to understand normal speech. While aging is the most common cause of hearing loss, exposure to excessive or explosive noise can also damage hearing. Once hearing is damaged, it cannot be repaired. Luckily, hearing loss due to excessive noise (noise-induced hearing loss, or NIHL) is totally preventable, unlike hearing loss due to age or a medical condition. That’s why it’s so important to protect your hearing now, while you still can! Here are a few ways to protect your hearing through the summer.

Wear Hearing Protection

Noise levels are measured in decibels (dB). The higher the decibel and the longer you are exposed, the higher the risk of hearing damage. As much fun as so many of our favorite summer activities are, they can also be loud. The following is a list of registered levels for common sounds, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology:

• 30 decibels – soft whisper
• 50 decibels – rain
• 60 decibels – normal conversation/computer typing
• 70 decibels – rush hour traffic
• 85 decibels – earplugs recommended for prolonged exposure at this level
• 90 decibels – subway trains, lawnmower, shop tools
• 100 decibels – chainsaw, snowmobile, drill
• 110 decibels – power saw
• 115 decibels – loud rock concert, sandblasting, car horn
• 130 decibels – race car
• 150 decibels – fireworks/jet engine takeoff
• 170 decibels – shotgun

This chart, published by the CDC, shows how quickly hearing can be damaged at varying noise levels. You will notice that these are all fairly common sounds, especially during the summer months.

Yard Work

Whether you view yard work as a hobby or a chore, there is one thing we can all agree on: it can get loud! Most types of lawn equipment register around 90-110 decibels – levels loud enough that only one to two hours could cause damage to your hearing. Remember to protect your hearing while you’re mowing the lawn or using power tools for those other summer projects.

Live Concerts

Concert music levels can reach between 100 and 120 decibels. At a level of 85 dB, hearing protection is recommended for prolonged exposure. At a level of 110 dB, hearing loss can occur after only two minutes of exposure, according to the chart above. So, if you plan on going to a 2-hour concert without hearing protection, you risk significant damage to your ears, not to mention the damage that an all-day music festival could cause. While attending concerts this summer, remember to wear hearing protection. You’ll still be able to enjoy the music – we promise!

Sporting Events

For many people the sounds of a sporting event are a part of the experience. Indianapolis happens to be home to several world-class sports teams and arenas, so our community gets to experience these thrills first-hand. However, the noise at these events often reaches dangerous levels. This is due to the crowds, announcers, music, and the acoustics of the venue. For example, a typical professional baseball game can reach noise levels of up to 107 dB, a basketball game can reach 118dB, and a car race can reach up to 130dB. Although this means that hearing could be damaged after only a few minutes of exposure, this doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy watching your favorite team play. Just remember to wear hearing protection while you’re at the game!

Fireworks Displays

Summertime is, of course, the best time for fireworks! And who doesn’t love reclining under the stars with friends and family to catch a beautiful fireworks display? Use caution, though, because firework displays can reach noise levels of 150dB. According to the CDC, just one minute of exposure to these levels of noise can cause hearing damage. If you plan on getting close to the action this summer, please protect your hearing!

Get Your Hearing Checked by an Audiologist

Once hearing is damaged due to exposure to loud noise, it cannot be repaired. However, there is still some good news. Even if you haven’t taken the best care of your hearing in the past, the audiologists at Whisper Hearing Centers can help. Our medical experts take the time to test you thoroughly, answer all of your questions, and find a hearing solution that fits your needs, your lifestyle, and your budget.

If you are concerned about your hearing health or just have a few questions for an audiologist, contact Whisper Hearing Centers today to schedule an appointment, or click here to take a free online hearing quiz to find out more about your hearing.

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