We all know that noise pollution is a bad thing. We buy headphones that filter it out with “noise-cancelling technology” and it can get on our nerves if it goes on too long. Whether it’s a noisy lawnmower next door, loud traffic from a nearby road or airport, or neighbors who can’t keep their voices down, noise pollution is all around us.
Your Noise Pollution Filters
Living in this sea of sounds, it is important to be able to filter out the unwanted “noise” so we can hear the things that matter. That unwanted noise, especially if it is constant or very loud, is noise pollution.
Even some of the welcome noises in our environments are not ideal for our hearing health. If you listen to music using earbuds or have a stereo system that helps you pump up the volume on your favorite movies, those sounds may become noise pollution too, if they are damaging your hearing.
Depending on exposure time, noise above 80 decibels is generally going to cause some hearing damage. Since noises like an overhead jet or high-pitched instruments at a concert can easily exceed 100 decibels, you may be exposing yourself to harmful noise pollution more often than you think.
A vacuum cleaner runs at about 70 decibels and a snowmobile is around 100, while a dishwasher and normal conversation are generally measured at around 60 dB.
Noise pollution not only affects our hearing, but can affect the whole body. Noise can alter the heartbeat, increase breathing rates, disrupt digestion, contribute to insomnia and irritability, and can even increase blood pressure.
After you leave a noisy environment like a concert, you may experience ringing in your ears, also known as tinnitus. Tinnitus can last a few minutes or even a few days, and if it happens a few times can cause permanent hearing damage. The cumulative effect of hearing damage is one reason many people lose their hearing as they age.
Is Hearing Loss Inevitable?
Fortunately, there are lots of things you can do to protect your hearing from noise pollution and have healthy hearing as long as possible. You can limit your exposure to the noises that you control first: turn down the music and the sound system, and opt for over-the-ear headphones instead of earbuds, which are more likely to damage hearing.
Notice the noise around you and make an effort to avoid it when you can. If there is loud equipment outside, close the windows until it subsides. If you are going to a concert, wear earplugs to protect your hearing.
Get noise-canceling headphones. Cutting down on background noise means that you can enjoy your music at a lower volume, and protect your hearing in the long run.
Simply paying attention and taking pro-active steps toward protecting your hearing in your everyday life will contribute greatly to the health and longevity of your hearing.
And always be pro-active when it comes to your hearing health. The first step to halting hearing loss and preventing further damage is to recognize your situation. Come in today for a hearing screening and formulate a strategy to train your brain to listen actively and effectively.
Diablo Hearing Services 2301 Camino Ramon, STE 106 San Ramon