I can't tell you exactly how many of my patients have damaged their hearing with loud noise exposure, but it's definitely a lot.
Here are a few guidelines for times when you should wear hearing protection, and what type of protection to wear. Remember, damage due to noise exposure is a combination of HOW LONG you're exposed to the noise and HOW LOUD the noise is.
In other words, the louder the noise, the less time it's safe to be around that noise.
For almost all of these examples, foam earplugs are acceptable if they're used correctly. The reality is, most people don't insert them well enough to be effective.
Custom-molded earplugs, made by an audiologist, are almost always a better solution because they are made to fit your specific ear anatomy, and will seal your ear and be more comfortable to wear long-term.
Also, there are custom plugs that are specially designed for specific situations (snoring spouse, listening to music at concerts, hearing clearly during a shooting expedition with protection from gunshots, etc.)
When to protect your ears from noise:
- Mowing the yard
- Shooting guns (even if you're not shooting very often -- it just takes one!)
- Using power tools (even if it's just for a few seconds at a time)
- NASCAR races
- Attending concerts (classical and opera are not generally loud enough to merit hearing protection)
- Performing with music groups
- Work environments with constant, moderate noise (85 dBSPL or more)
- Driving often with window down
- When shooting off fireworks (observing a fireworks show is okay)
- Personal music players (the louder you play it, the less time you should spend listening)
Damaging exposure to loud sound can cause permanent hearing loss and tinnitus. Remember -- you only get one set of ears.
If you want more information about how to protect your ears with custom hearing protection, or if you or someone you know could benefit from having a complimentary hearing checkup, book an appointment below or give us a call at 844-440-4327 (HEAR).