7 Tips to Protect Yourself from Noise-Induced Hearing Loss



Exposure to loud noise can damage the sensitive structures in the inner ear and cause noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). People of all ages can develop NIHL. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) states that 26 million people between the ages of 20 and 69 have NIHL, and the World Health Organization warns that 1.1 billion teens are at risk for NIHL.

Personal technologies like audio devices, smartphones, and electronic toys can produce damaging sounds anywhere from 85 to 136 decibels. It is recommended that the exposure to sound be limited to 80 decibels since sounds at or below this level are not known to cause hearing loss. However, extended or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels can cause hearing impairment.

What Sounds Can Cause Hearing Loss?

Here are some loud sounds that can cause noise-induced hearing loss:

  • Power tools
  • Emergency vehicle sirens
  • Sporting events such as football, hockey, and soccer games
  • Music from headphones or earbuds, especially when the volume is set close to the maximum
  • Movie theatres
  • Some children’s toys
  • Music concerts
  • Fitness classes
  • Gunfire

Potential Health Effects of NIHL

Besides damaging your hearing, NIHL can lead to:

  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Isolation
  • Anxiety
  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia

How Can Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Be Treated?

There is no cure for noise-induced hearing loss. By far the best option is avoidance. Sufferers of NIHL often find that hearing aids can help overcome their hearing deficit. A person who suspects he or she might have NIHL should see an audiologist to determine their type and degree of hearing loss and to learn if hearing aids might help.

How to Protect Yourself from NIHL

Noise is unavoidable, but you can follow these seven tips to protect yourself from noise-induced hearing loss:

1. Reduce Loud Noises

Remember that noise-induced hearing loss can lead to learning and communication difficulties, tinnitus, or muffled hearing. You must identify loud noises and reduce your exposure to them. Follow these tips to protect your hearing:

  • Turn down the volume of music systems and televisions.
  • Move away from loud sounds when possible.
  • Use hearing protection when you cannot avoid exposure to loud sounds.

2. Take Precautions at Work

If you are exposed to loud noises at work, you can:

  • Wear hearing protection – OSHA guidelines require employers to provide adequate hearing protection to at-risk employees.
  • Switch to quieter equipment if possible.
  • Take a break from the noise every 30 minutes.

3. Invest in Hearing Protection Devices

To protect your hearing, you can buy:

  • Disposable Ear plugs – Ear plugs come in different sizes and can be placed in the ear canal. They can reduce the noise levels by 15 to 30 decibels. Earplugs can be custom-made to fit your ears.
  • Earmuffs – They can be fitted over the ears and reduce the noise levels by 15 to 30 decibels. You can pair earmuffs and earplugs together for better hearing protection.
  • Noise-Canceling Headphones – They help you turn down the volume and block out external sounds.

4. Avoid Too Much Noise

Dangerously loud sounds are, for most of us, a fact of daily life and it can be difficult or impossible to avoid all of these sounds all of the time. By being cognizant of the hazards of very loud noise, though, you can take steps to limit your exposure to it.

5. Consider the Noise Ratings of Appliances

Check the noise levels of home and workshop appliances before you buy them. You often can find the device’s decibel output in the manual. Invest in appliances that have low or safe noise ratings. If you must use appliances with a high decibel output, then consider using hearing protection when operating the device.

6. Evaluate the Noise Levels of Your Gym

Fitness classes can produce sounds from 90 to 110 decibels, which can damage your hearing. Before joining a gym, ask if they have a trial period and use this time to see if the noise level is comfortable for you.

7. Give Your Ears a Rest

After prolonged exposure to loud noises, try to move to a quieter environment and rest your ears for at least 12 to 16 hours.

Getting your hearing tested regularly will help you detect and diagnose problems before they become worse. Contact us at 949-536-5180 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Chris Hoffman and get your hearing checked.


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Chris Lin Hoffmann

Dr. Chris Hoffmann is an audiologist who has been involved in hearing sciences for over 20 years. Her passion for helping people with their hearing led her to establish Hoffmann Audiology hearing clinic. Dr. Hoffmann has more than 14 years of clinical knowledge in hearing testing, hearing aid fittings, and aural rehabilitation.