Do NOT Let Winter Wipe Out Your Hearing
With the impending storms arriving, Stone’s Hearing Aid
Service wishes to reiterate the importance of ear protection and noise induced
hearing loss. Because Your Hearing is Our Concern
Winter is a time to pay attention to protecting our hearing
during activities that are most common during the season. Whether your hearing is
normal or you wear hearing aids to hear effectively, it is important to take
precautionary measures while you're outside enjoying the season.
Though you can barely hear snow falling to the ground, the sound of snow
blowers and snowmobiles can be dangerously loud. This winter, whether you are
blowing snow off your sidewalks or sledding through it in the wilderness, please make
sure your family’s hearing is protected.
While fun to use, the noise levels of
these machines can measure over 106 DB! Although you cannot lower the volume of
a snow blower or snowmobile, you can move away from the noise or wear hearing
protectors, such as earplugs or earmuffs.
Here are some instances where you could suffer noise-induced
hearing loss (NIHL), as well as some tips on how to protect against it:
• Using a
snow blower can cause hearing loss because they can emit sounds as loud as 106
decibels, which are only safe for exposure up to three and 3/4 minutes at a
time. If you must use a snow blower rather than a shovel to clear your sidewalk
and driveway, make sure to only use it in short bursts of time and to wear
proper, high-quality hearing protection to prevent against NIHL.
snow-geared machine - a snowmobile - can also be the cause of NIHL. While
snowmobiling is a fun winter sport, it is also very loud. Snowmobiles today can
be as loud as 78 decibels at a distance of 50 feet.
Please make sure to purchase
the best hearing protection you can afford before trying snowmobiling.
Please make sure
to step away a few times to take a "hearing break" and let your ears
rest a bit while using ANY loud noise inducing device.
Signs of hearing
How do you know if your ears have had enough? Here are some
signs that the noises you are listening to are just too loud:
• Ear pain
feeling in the ears
which can involve ringing, whooshing
or other noises
• Hypersensitivity to noise
hearing in noise
• Loss of
sensitivity to loud noises
Types of hearing
• Custom ear molds, which are made to personally fit your ear canals can be fitted and purchased directly at Stone's Hearing Aid Service.
foam ear plugs
• Capsule ear
protection, including headphones and earmuffs that go over the ears, rather
than inside them
If you experience a hearing loss or notice any continuous
buzzing or ringing in your ears, a check-up with with us at Stone's Hearing Aid Service for us to help ensure you are not suffering from NIHL or tinnitus.
Hearing health professionals believe one of the major causes
of hearing loss among Americans is noise induced. The National Institute on
Deafness and Other Communication Diseases (NIDCD) says as many as 26 million
Americans have noise induced hearing loss.
What is a safe noise level? The Occupational Health and
Safety Administration (OSHA) sets acceptable decibel levels in the work place
at 85 Db or less. Employers (example: landscapers and the Department of
Transportation, Borough/City/Township municipalities) are required to issue
hearing protection in environments that register noise levels louder than that.
There are several ways you can protect your hearing while
you are enjoying the great outdoors. Drug store earplugs are inexpensive and
can reduce the level of noise by as much as 30 Db. They protect your ears
against NIHL as well as from the ringing and aching often
caused by loud and consistent noise. Noise reducing ear muffs and headphones
may be more comfortable to wear, although they are typically more expensive.
If you wear hearing aids, consider wearing noise reducing
headphones or ear muffs when you know you will be in a noisy environment. Your hearing
aid amplifies sound, it is important to protect your ears from further damage.
Be careful, though. While headphones can keep your ears warm during the cold
winter months, they may cause you to perspire when wearing them before the
weather turns cool – and moisture is damaging to the delicate electronics in
your hearing aid.
Another way to protect your hearing during the winter months
is to wear a warm hat that covers your ears. Although scientists no longer
believe we lose more heat through our head than we do any other unprotected
part of our body, they do believe keeping your ears warm can prevent earaches.
Wearing a warm winter hat is also advisable for hearing aid users. According to
Energizer, exposure to heat, cold or moisture can shorten battery life.
The duration (how long you are exposed to a noise) can
affect the extent of noise induced hearing loss. The longer you are exposed to
a loud noise, the more damaging it may be. Every loud sound produces a noise
that could damage the ears of anyone in close hearing range. Excessive noise is
present in many situations. Some of the more common ones include occupational
noise (machinery, etc.), loud music, and non-occupational noise (lawn mowers,
snow blowers, etc.).
Finally, make sure you eat right and exercise regularly this
season. Hearing health professionals believe that, much like the rest of our
bodies, hearing health is dependent upon good blood flow and proper nutrition.
Even though we’re more likely to develop hearing loss as we age, we can slow
the process down by taking care of ourselves.
How is Noise Induced Hearing Loss Diagnosed?
Hearing loss usually develops over a period of several
years. Since it is painless and gradual, you might not notice it. What you
might notice is a ringing or other sound in your ear (tinnitus), which could be
the result of long-term exposure to noise that has damaged hearing. Or, you may
have trouble understanding what people say; they may seem to be mumbling,
especially when you are in a noisy place such as in a crowd or at a party. This
could be the beginning of high-frequency hearing loss; a hearing test will
detect it. If you have any of these symptoms, you may have nothing more serious
than impacted wax or an ear infection, which might be simply corrected.
However, it might be hearing loss from noise. In any case, take no chances with
noise – the hearing loss it causes is permanent.
If you suspect a hearing loss, please call or visit Stone’s
Hearing Aid Service for a FREE hearing evaluation, assessing your hearing concern
and recommending the best way to manage it.
How Might Noise Induced Hearing Loss Affect My Life?
Hearing loss can impact one’s life in many ways. You may be
less able to understand conversation or appreciate music. A ringing in the
ears, called tinnitus, commonly occurs after noise exposure, and it often
becomes permanent. Some people react to loud noise with anxiety and
irritability, an increase in pulse rate and blood pressure, or an increase in
stomach acid. Very loud noise can reduce efficiency in performing difficult
tasks by diverting attention from the job.
How can I tell if I am listening to dangerous noise levels?
raise your voice to be heard.
hear someone 3 feet away from you.
you sounds muffled or dull after you leave the noisy area.
You have pain
or ringing in your ears (this is called “tinnitus”) after exposure to noise.
How can loud noise damage hearing?
Understanding how we hear will help you to understand how
loud noise can hurt your hearing.
One of the most common bad effects of loud noise on hearing
is a permanent hearing loss. This happens in the following way:
sound is collected by the ear as sound waves. The sound waves travel down the
ear canal toward the eardrum with enough force to disrupt the delicate hearing
system. If the sound is loud enough, it can dislodge the tiny bones of the
sound passes through the middle ear and travels to the inner ear, also known as
the cochlea. The tiny hair cells lining this fluid-filled chamber can be
damaged as the loud sound reaches the inner ear.
hair cells can send electrical impulses to the brain. It is in the brain that
the sound is understood and interpreted. Hair cells damaged by loud sound
cannot send the impulse to the brain for interpretation.
noises, like a firecracker or an explosion, can damage hair cells, as can
continuous and/or repeated exposure to high levels of noise.
Once the hair
cells are damaged, there is no current treatment to repair them.
How else can loud
noise be harmful?
Loud noise can increase fatigue and cause
Noise can reduce the ability to pay attention to
tasks. This is a concern at the workplace when it comes to workers' safety: The
ability to detect faulty equipment operation or warning signals can be reduced.
Noise can also reduce productivity.
Noisy classrooms can make it harder for children
Noisy backgrounds can make understanding
conversation harder. The noise can mask or cover up some of the sounds of
speech, making a word like “time” sound like “dime.” More concentration and
energy are needed not only to listen and hear over the noise but also to speak
louder. As a result, voices can be strained, and laryngitis can develop.
Another common effect of loud sound on hearing
is tinnitus. Tinnitus is ringing, buzzing, or other sounds in the ear.
Loud noise can also cause other physical problems, such as:
abnormal heart rate
difficulty sleeping (even after the noise stops)
the development of a baby before birth
protection. Cotton in the ears will not work. Hearing protection, such as
earmuffs or earplugs, can be purchased at drugstores, hardware stores, or
sports stores. Custom earmolds can be made to fit your ears by an audiologist.
Learn how to correctly insert the earplugs and earmolds for the best noise
placed into the ear canal so that they totally block the canal. They come in
different shapes and sizes, or they can be custom-made by taking an impression
of the ear. Earplugs can reduce noise by 15 to 30 decibels (dB) depending on
how they are made and fit.
completely over both ears. They must fit tightly so that sound is blocked from
entering the ears. Like earplugs, muffs can reduce noise 15 to 30 dB depending
on how they are made and fit.
earmuffs can be used together to achieve even greater sound reduction. Use of
earplugs and earmuffs is recommended when noise exposure is particularly high.
Do not listen
to loud sounds for too long. If you don’t have hearing protection, move away
from the loud sound. Give your ears a break from the sound. Plug your ears with
your fingers as emergency vehicles pass on the road.
loudness of the sound. Keep personal listening devices set to no more than half
volume. Don’t be afraid to ask others to turn down the sounds from speakers.
Speak to the movie theater projectionist if the movie sound track is too loud.
Be a good
consumer. Look for noise ratings on appliances, sporting equipment, power
tools, and hair dryers. Purchase quieter products. This is especially important
when purchasing toys for children.
Be a local
advocate. Some movie theaters, health clubs, dance clubs, bars, and amusement
centers are very noisy. Speak to managers and those in charge about the loud
noise and the potential damages to hearing. Ask to have the noise source
Can my ears
get used to noise?
fooled by thinking your ears are “tough” or that you have the ability to “tune
it out”! Noise-induced hearing loss is usually gradual and painless but,
unfortunately, permanent. Once destroyed, the hearing nerve and its sensory
nerve cells do not repair.
If you think
you have “gotten used to” the noise you routinely encounter, you may already
have some hearing damage.
How loud is too loud?
The noise chart below lists average decibel levels for
everyday sounds around you.
Decibel Loudness Comparison Chart
• 150 dB =
• 140 dB =
• 130 dB =
• 120 dB =
jet plane takeoff, siren
• 110 dB =
maximum output of some MP3 players,
model airplane, chain saw
• 106 dB =
gas lawn mower, snow blower
• 100 dB =
hand drill, pneumatic drill
• 90 dB =
• 80–90 dB =
blow-dryer, kitchen blender, food processor
• 70 dB =
busy traffic, vacuum cleaner, alarm clock
• 60 dB =
typical conversation, dishwasher, clothes dryer
• 50 dB =
• 40 dB =
• 30 dB =
whisper, quiet library
Facts About Noise-induced Hearing Loss
26 million Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 have high-frequency hearing
loss from overexposure to loud noises at work or during leisure activities.
More than 30 million Americans are exposed to dangerous levels of noise on a
hearing loss is 100 percent preventable.
• Symptoms of
noise-induced hearing loss will increase gradually. Over time, the sounds a
person hears may become distorted or muffled, and it may be difficult for the
person to understand speech.
Someone with noise-induced hearing loss may not even be
aware of the loss,
but it can be detected with a hearing evaluation.
hearing loss is related both to the decibel level of a sound and to the amount
of time you are exposed to it. Your distance from the sound also matters.
hearing loss is related to a person's genes. Some people are more likely than
others to develop noise-induced hearing loss when they listen to certain
sounds. Scientists are working to determine which people are more at risk for
noise-induced hearing loss and which are less at risk.
who study hearing loss have found that a person who is exposed to noise levels
at 85 decibels or higher for a prolonged period of time is at risk for hearing
devices that children use today have noise levels much higher than 85 decibels.
For example, an MP3 player at maximum level is roughly 105 decibels. That's 100
times more intense than 85 decibels!
frequently participate in activities involving potentially damaging noise
levels: playing with noisy toys, band instruments, and video games; listening
to personal music players and stereos at high volumes; attending concerts and
movies; operating lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and power tools; and riding off-road
vehicles and snowmobiles.
• When we are
exposed to harmful noise—sounds that are too loud or loud sounds that last a
long time—sensitive structures in our inner ear can be damaged, causing
noise-induced hearing loss. These structures, called hair cells, are small
sensory cells in the inner ear that convert sound energy into electrical
signals that travel to the brain.
believe that, depending upon the type of noise, the pure force of vibrations
from loud sounds can cause hearing loss. Recent studies also show that exposure
to harmful noise levels triggers the formation of molecules inside the ear that
contribute to hair cell damage and noise-induced hearing loss. These
destructive molecules play an important role in hearing loss in children and
adults who listen to loud noise for too long.
hearing loss is cumulative, invisible, and permanent. It is cumulative because
the damage can start when we are young and get worse over time. It is invisible
because it can happen without our even noticing it, until it is too late. And
it is permanent because, unlike a broken arm that gets better over time, we
can't "heal" our hearing. Once it's damaged, it's damaged for good.
Please call or visit Stone's Hearing Aid Service for your
FREE hearing evaluation TODAY
Your Hearing is Our Concern
noisyplanet.nidcd.nih.gov; asha.org; american-hearing.org;