On most sunny days, we make sure to wear sunglasses to protect our eyes from damaging UV exposure. Why do we tend to not treat our ears with the same kindness, by wearing earplugs in noisy environments?
Decibels (dB) are units used to measure sound. Normal conversation is around 60 dB but it does not take a lot more than that for sound to become harmful. According to Eugene Audiology, a simple 10-unit increase in decibels means that a sound is 10 times more intense! Therefore, earplugs are recommended for any noise over 85 dB.
Since most of us do not walk around with an audiometer attached to our hip, how can we determine what sound is damaging?
Anytime you are doing loud chores around the house, it is good to protect your ears. The lawnmower, power tools, and generator all get up to 100 dB in sound, which is very damaging for your hearing. Earplugs or earmuffs are highly recommended when performing these tasks.
Movies and Concerts
Going to see a long-anticipated movie or watching our favorite artists on stage is something many of us enjoy doing. However, action movies and live music can easily go over 100 dB. They can get so loud that even short-term exposure can do long-term damage. Earplugs can reduce the harmful sound dramatically so you can enjoy the experience while protecting your ears.
Racecar events like the Grand Prix can get very loud due to the high sounds of the engines. However, even the sounds from the cheering fans can be damaging! According to Brentwood Hearing Center, scientists have found that cheering fans at the Super Bowl can get as loud as 107 dB!
Also, if you are a shooter or around one, the importance of protecting your ears is very obvious. A single gunshot can do severe permanent damage to your hearing.
Some occupations may expose you to loud noises, such as factory work, radio hosting, or mechanic work. Knowing when to use earplugs can really save your hearing in the long-term, even if the noise is temporary. Make sure you have disposable earplugs on you so you can put them on at any time.
If you still are not sure what kind of ear protection to use or when to use it, discuss it with your local hearing care professional. By going over your daily tasks and routines, your provider will be able to give you the proper recommendations.