Better Speech and Hearing Month: Week Two -Hearing Protection

Hearing loss is the fastest growing, and one of the most prevalent, chronic conditions facing Canadians today. While hearing loss has many causes, age-related (presbycusis) and noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) are the two most common types.
While some forms of hearing loss cannot be prevented, noise-induced hearing loss is preventable. 

Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by overexposure to loud sounds. In some cases, the damage is only temporary. But repeated exposure to excessive noise for long periods of time can cause permanent damage.

Until recently, noise-induced hearing loss was linked mainly to excessive noise in the workplace. Some newer studies suggest that many teenagers and young adults have experienced permanent hearing loss caused by over-exposure to loud noise from a variety of everyday activities.

Scientists measure the levels of different sounds with a unit called the A-weighted decibel (dBA). Sounds with levels below 70 dBA pose no known risk of hearing loss, no matter how long you listen. This is roughly what you would hear if you were driving alone at highway speeds in a family car, with the windows up and the radio off. When sound levels increase, the daily listening time becomes an important risk factor for hearing loss. In general, the louder the sound, the less time it takes to pose risks to your hearing.

There are everyday activities that can pose a potential risk of a gradual, noise-induced hearing loss if you are not wearing proper hearing protection. This depends on factors such as the actual sound levels you are exposed to, and how long you are exposed for. 

Our next posts will cover the different styles of hearing protection that will best suit your hearing needs.