Twenty six million Americans have permanent hearing loss caused by loud sounds. Among teenagers, 16% have some degree of hearing loss!
We all know that very loud noise can permanently damage our hearing, but how loud is too loud?
Our ears have hair cells that convert sound vibrations into electrical signals. These hair cells allow us to detect sound, but if they have been damaged they do not grow back, and our hearing is permanently harmed. Short periods of loud sound may cause us to have temporary ringing in our ears (tinnitus), or even brief hearing loss that returns, but chronic exposure to loud sounds can cause permanent damage. Wearing ear plugs or ear protection is proven to protect hearing.
Sound is measured in decibels (dB). Sounds less than 85 dB are unlikely to damage our hearing.
Blow dryer: 85 dB
Lawnmower: 90 dB
Motorcycle: 95 dB
Ear buds playing music at maximum volume: 105 dB
Rock concert: 110 – 120 dB
Siren: 120 dB
Thunderclap: 120 dB
Gunshot: 140-190 dB