Have you ever wondered that the thrill of racing a motorcycle, the exhilaration of attending your favorite singer’s concert or even the joy of calming down your crying infant can hurt your hearing? Sounds like an exaggeration? Read on.
The sounds around us become a way of our lives in such a manner that we are unable to even speculate any harm that can come from them. Especially when it comes to hearing. The norm, after all, is that anything that isn’t blaring into your ears is not noise, right? Well, researchers, who have done extensive studies in this field, have a different story to tell.
The sound is measured in decibels (dB) and has a threshold (around 80 dB) above which it is harmful to our hearing health. In fact, even a slight increase of as much as 5 dB (i.e. 85dB) can cause permanent damage to our hearing when we are exposed to such sounds for more than 8 hours. And, at about 100 dB, the same damage can occur in a matter of just a couple of hours! Scary much? Well, there’s more. You’ll be surprised to know how much damage those ‘routine’ and harmless everyday sounds can actually cause to your hearing health.
Blow Dryers and Hair Stylers
Often one of the first appliances to be used while getting ready for the day, hair dryers can produce noise that’s sufficient to cause immediate transient hearing loss. Go to a salon and the perfectly blow-dried hair come with a latent cost. One, that even your hairdresser bears for you, without even realizing!
Noise Level: 95 decibels
Time for hearing damage to set in: 2 hours
‘Regular’ City Traffic
Probably tardy by a few mins, thanks to the time taken to style their hair, everyone (including you) feels that they can make up for the lost time by honking their way to the office. The rush to make it in time overpowers us so much that, probably, it never even crosses our minds that such noises can be harmful. Sadly, not even when you enter the office feeling cranky in your head (somewhere near the ears!)
Noise Level: 85-88 decibels
Time for hearing damage to set in: 4 hours
Car Stereo or Radio
Those of us who do realize about the outside ruckus of the honking cars and screechy motorbikes, unfortunately, decide to drown them out with cranked up volumes of the car stereo. Or sometimes, even a favorite song on the radio during a long drive demands more attention (read: volume), right? Little do we know that such short-term hacks and pleasures come at the expense of our hearing capacity.
Noise Level: up to 150 decibels
Time for hearing damage to set in: 15-30 mins
Household Appliances and Garden Tools
After a hectic day at work, when you return to the pending chores or even the supposedly ‘therapeutic’ session of cooking, you continue to be at risk of hearing loss. The food processors and the blenders may add taste to your food but can have a damaging effect on your hearing apparatus. Similarly, land mowers and leaf blowers can be worthy additions to maintain that beautiful backyard but can wreak havoc on your ‘naked’ ears.
Noise Level: 90-106 decibels
Time for hearing damage to set in: less than an hour
A Baby’s Cry
Believe it or not, a baby’s cry is so powerful and loud that it can cause hearing damage within minutes! In fact, there has been extensive research and studies that show a direct relation between the cry of a child and the hearing loss in parents. Startling as it sounds, the next time your baby cries, you have another reason to do your best to calm them down!
Noise Level: 115-130 decibels
Time for hearing damage to set in: within 15 minutes
The last one’s an “ear-opener”, isn’t it? It is difficult to measure every sound that gets processed by our brain. However, now that you know how even an innocent baby’s wail can affect your hearing, it is important to understand how plausible hearing damage is and how easily susceptible you are to it.
If after exposure to such situations leaves you with a ringing or buzzing sensation in your ears, know that it is your ears giving you the hint that they’ve had a lot on their plates. Take the cue and see a hearing professional. It’s better to be sure than sorry, right?