Traffic noise, radios on loud, power tools buzzing: regardless of where you work or live, the chances are that you are exposed to some degree of noise pollution, which can damage your hearing over time. Educate yourself about the risks of noise and learn how to protect your hearing.
The outer ear collects the sound and transmits to the middle ear via the ear canal, where the sound is changed into vibrations. The vibrations are then transferred to the inner ear and into the cochlea. The cochlea is snail-shaped and filled with fluid and many small hair cells. As the sound vibrations travel through the cochlea, they cause the fluid to bend these tiny hair cells. As the hair cells bend, nerve impulses are passed through the auditory nerve to the brain where they are interpreted as sound.
These tiny hair cells can be damaged through constant exposure to loud noise, resulting in a sensorineural hearing loss. Unfortunately once damaged, the small hair cells cannot be repaired. However, a noise-induced hearing loss is preventable. The crucial step to take is to avoid constant exposure to noise 90dB and louder. If you can't do this, wear airtight hearing protection during exposure and take regular breaks.
|Levels (Decibels)||Common Sounds|
|50||Rainfall, quiet office, refrigerator|
|70||Traffic, vacuum cleaner, restaurant|
|80||Alarm clock, Train station, factory noise|
|90||Electric razor, lawn mower|
|100||Garbage truck, chainsaw, stereo set above the halfway mark|
|110||Rocket concert, power saw|
|120||Jet takeoff, night club, thunder|
|140||Shot gun, air raid system|
|180||Rocket launching pad|
Warning signs that you’re being exposed, even temporarily, to excessive noise levels include:
Noise-induced hearing loss cannot be repaired, but it is preventable. If you've already suffered a hearing loss, talk to your hearing healthcare professional about using hearing aids. Happily, more than 90% of people with hearing loss can be assisted with the use of hearing aids.
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