There are three characteristics that can contribute to hearing damage

  1. Time: the length of time you are exposed to the sound
  2. Distance: How close you are to the source of the sound
  3. Decibel level: How loud the sound is.
What can loud sounds do to your hearing?

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) can be caused by a one-time exposure to an intense "impulse" sound. This type of hearing loss can also be caused by continuous exposure to loud sounds above 85 decibels for an extended period of time. This extreme or continuous noise damages the stereocilia, which are tiny hair-like structures that are located on top of hair cells in your inner ear. This damage causes permanent hearing loss. The picture below on the left is an image of healthy stereocilia, and the image on the right is damaged stereocilia.

Decibel level

Sound is measured in decibels. Any sound 85 decibels and over can cause damage to your hearing. An average game at a football stadium is 100dB, and even noise from heavy traffic is on average 85dB.

How to prevent noise-induced hearing loss

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is preventable. Being cautious of noise levels is a great step in avoiding damaging your hearing.

  • Move further away from the noise
  • Wear hearing protectors, such as earmuffs or earplugs
  • Lower the volume

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