WASHINGTON, DC -- (Marketwired) -- 06/30/14 -- As summertime kicks into full swing, the Better Hearing Institute (BHI) (www.betterhearing.org) is urging children, teens, and adults of all ages to protect their hearing, reminding them that permanent noise-induced hearing loss cannot be reversed.
The sounds of summer are among the most cherished and offer wonderful lifetime memories. But summertime also brings loud noises that can permanently harm our hearing. Prolonged exposure to the roar of lawn mowers, power tools, motorized recreational vehicles, target shooting, concerts, loud sporting events, and fireworks all can wreak havoc on our hearing. In fact, the single bang of a firecracker at close range can permanently damage hearing in an instant, making it forever more difficult to hear the subtler sounds of summer.
While many noisy recreational activities are part of summer fun, it is extremely important to take precautions to ensure that these activities do not damage our hearing.
"Hearing is the sense that connects us to each other," says William Hal Martin, Ph.D., Professor of Otolaryngology, National University of Singapore, Program Director MSc of Audiology, Center for Hearing, Speech & Balance, and Co-Director of Dangerous Decibels. "Exposure to loud sounds cannot only destroy our ability to hear, it can cause tinnitus -- ringing in the ears."
"People of all ages are at risk to hearing loss from loud sounds, but it easily can be prevented by simple steps," Martin continues. "It is important to recognize when your ears are in danger and to safeguard them so you can enjoy listening to friends, music, and sounds you love for the rest of your life."
Nearly 40 million people in the United States today have hearing loss. Hearing loss affects Gen Xers, baby boomers, and people of all ages. In fact, results from a 2008 study suggested that the prevalence of hearing loss among younger adults, specifically those in their 20s and 30s, is increasing (http://ow.ly/yyMI0). Other research indicates that hearing loss from noise affects nearly 17 percent of 12-to-19 year olds in the United States, and if they continue to be exposed to hazardous sounds, they will have significant hearing problems much earlier in life than one would normally expect. (http://ow.ly/yydHP) (http://ow.ly/yyewp) (http://ow.ly/yyLHV) (http://www.dangerousdecibels.org/)
BHI offers some simple tips to follow:
How Noise Affects Our Hearing
We hear sound when delicate hair cells in our inner ear vibrate, creating nerve signals that the brain understands as sound. But just as we can overload an electrical circuit, we also can overload these vibrating hair cells. Loud noise damages these delicate hair cells, resulting in sensorineural hearing loss and often tinnitus (ringing in the ears). The cells that are the first to be damaged or die are those that vibrate most quickly -- those that allow us to hear higher-frequency sounds clearly, like the sounds of birds singing and children speaking.
Sound volume is measured in decibels, with the softest sound a normal hearing human can hear measuring at 0 dBA. Any sounds above 85 dBA for 8 or more hours are considered unsafe. Most firecrackers produce sounds starting at 125 dB peak SPL, presenting the risk of irreversible ear damage. Repeated exposure to loud noise, over an extended period of time, presents serious risks to hearing health as well. If you have to shout over the noise to be heard by someone within arm's length, the noise is probably in the dangerous range. Here are other warning signs:
For more information on hearing loss and to take the free, quick, and confidential online BHI Hearing Check, go to www.BetterHearing.org.