We live in a world that bombards us with sound on a daily basis. Whether we’re at work or at play, being exposed to noise that is too loud or too long places our hearing at risk.
According to the Better Hearing Institute, nearly 50 million Americans suffer from hearing loss, and 30 million are exposed to hazardous noise levels on a daily basis.
Noise-induced hearing loss can be caused by a one-time exposure to very loud impulse sound, such as an explosion. It also can be caused by extended exposure to loud sound generated at a concert, sporting event or even through earphones. The longer we expose ourselves to threatening sound levels, the greater chance we face of permanent damage to the sensitive hair cells in our inner ears, resulting in hearing loss.
Sound levels are measured in units called decibels (dB). Sound levels in a quiet room average 40dB. Normal conversational speech is approximately 60dB, and a gunshot can register as much as 140dB. Sound levels that are greater than 85dB can cause permanent hearing loss. In addition to sound levels, the duration of the sound and the distance from the source of the sound can affect the risk of hearing loss.
Custom hearing protection devices exist for musicians and music-lovers, hunters and people who are exposed to high levels of noise. Hearing protection is also available for swimmers. Here are the basic types of hearing protection:
- Earplugs: For musicians and music-lovers, earplugs provide hearing protection while allowing the bass and treble to come through, maintaining music sound quality.
- Custom-made in-ear monitors can be crafted for performers that need built-in speakers as well as sound reduction. Also, custom earpieces are available for earbud/earphone insertion to allow a secure fit during athletic activity.
- High-level protection and shooting earplugs are custom made to protect ears from impulse sounds from gunshots and continuous noise from power tools and lawnmowers.
- Hunting earplugs are a new custom category. They are custom-made plugs that protect hearing when taking a shot but provide a low level of amplification for tracking game, which is an advantage over traditional sound-muffling earplugs.
- Swimmolds help to protect ears from irritation or infection caused by water in the ears. They are a great form of protection for swimmers, divers or boaters of any age. Swimmolds are commonly worn by people who have ear tubes or perforated eardrums.
Custom-made hearing protection devices are made using ear impressions that are taken in the office and shipped to a manufacturer for fabrication.
Our ears are made to last a lifetime. Protecting your hearing should be a priority. If you are exposed to situations that place your ears at risk, contact a Christiana Care Audiologist at one of our three locations to schedule a consultation to determine your individual needs.