You see it in movies when the actor is walk cheerfully down the street. It’s a big city like New York City or Manhattan. You see them walk past all the noise of traffic and taxis honking their horns. You don’t see them budge when walking past construction workers manning jackhammers. Have you ever noticed that the construction workers are wearing ear protection, but not the people shuffling around them getting to work? Why not? Do we just not think about it? There are many things in our daily life that could potentially damage our hearing.
How do we hear? The sound waves travel down our ear canal and make contact with our ear drum, which in turn sends vibrations down to our inner ear. Inside the cochlea (inner ear) little hairs convert the vibrations to electronic signals and nerve impulses that tell the brain what you’re hearing. That’s how you know when the microwave is going off, that the doorbell is ringing, or that your mother is wondering aloud why you haven’t called her in weeks! But when noise is too loud those little hairs get destroyed. It could be a different story if they grew back like the hair on our head or body, but they don’t. They’re permanently gone when they become damaged, which is why it’s so important to protect your ears. Sound is measured in decibels. The quietest sound a human can hear is 0 dB, while normal conversation is around 60 dB, while the loudest ever was at 204 dB when the Saturn V rocket blasted off to space. While sensitivity varies from person to person, long exposure to loud noises can cause a ringing sensation in your ears, making it difficult to talk to others, or causing temporary loss of hearing. If you’re wondering if it’s too late, it definitely isn’t. It doesn’t matter if you’re 15, 25, or 75 years old, you can always start protecting your ears.
You might not be the coolest person wearing ear plugs at a concert, but you’ll definitely be the smartest. Some concerts can be measured past 100 dB and get even louder closer to the stage. In 2016 when the Arkansas Razorbacks played Alabama in football, they had an average noise level of 93 dB, with the highest at 115 dB! That’s like standing near a jet engine plane before it takes off! Sometimes you need to give your ears a rest. 16 hours of quieter environment is recommended for every two hours in 100 dB sounds. Do you use cotton swabs after your shower? You risk damaging your ear drum when you do. Instead try towel drying your ears. A little ear wax doesn’t hurt and keeps bugs and particles out, too! Try the 60-60 rule as well, which is 60 percent max volume on your music player at 60 minute sessions. The next time your favorite song comes on your morning commute, you might want to turn it down before turning it up.
Your hearing health is important. Noise is constantly affecting your hearing, but most of the time we do not recognize it until issues begin to arise. Take a step towards better hearing and pay attention to the sound and noise around you. Take the necessary precautions to protect your hearing. For more information on hearing health, or to schedule an evaluation, contact Arkansas Otolaryngology Center today.