Noise, not age, cause of most hearing loss
We live in a noisy world. Tens of millions of Americans already have permanent hearing loss caused by the everyday noise we're exposed to. While there are regulations to protect people who work in noisy environments, outside the workplace you're on your own.
"Over time you could sustain some permanent damage," explained Sarah Jones, an Audiologist at St. Luke's University Health Network.
Very loud noises like a car alarm, or prolonged exposure like listening to music through headphones can wreak havoc on our hearing.
Sound volume is measured in decibels. Experts say noise can start causing permanent hearing loss at around 85 decibels, and it's an easy number to hit. In fact a blender is around 100 decibels, and your blow dyer reaches nearly 90 decibels. The noise damages cells within the cochlea, a snail shaped organ inside our ears. The cells have tiny hair like projections that are stimulated by sound. You're born with a set number of these delicate cells, so once they're damaged it's permanent. That can lead to the inability to hear sounds at higher frequencies or understand ordinary speech.
"Any time you're in a situation that noise is uncomfortable, volume is uncomfortable, use hearing protection," urged Jones. "The one thing we do have control over is making the choice to put on the ear muffs or to put in the ear plugs."
Age and medical conditions can also play a part in hearing loss. If you have concerns it's smart to talk to your doctor.
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