Tag Archive: ear plugs

Noise causes hearing loss

Not convinced?  Then why is hearing loss more prevalent in certain occupations?  Healthy Hearing provides a list of the most dangerous occupations to hearing health: Top five occupations causing hearing loss.

As Healthy Hearing points out, “[n]o matter what the source, however, even these occupations that come with a high risk of noise related hearing loss can be made safer with proper precautions.”   It is unconscionable that industry and government are aware that these occupations are causing life altering hearing loss and neither is doing enough to stop it.

A chilling reminder that exposure to loud noise can lead to more than hearing loss

David Sikorski, senior editor at Earmilk, an online music publication, has written a must read piece for anyone who loves to listen to live music: Tinnitus, Suicides & Earplugs: Don’t be an idiot.  Sikorski states that as senior editor he has “issued a full mandatory requirement for any of our writers to wear earplugs when attending/reviewing any concert or festival on our behalf.”  Why?  Here’s his answer:

Over 700 million people around the world suffer from some form of Tinnitus or ringing in the ears. This recent flood of self-induced hearing damage from oversized studio headphones, grandiose speaker systems and silly notions carried over from ill-advised past generations – equating decibel levels to enjoyment – have created a music industry epidemic.

When it happens, it just happens. You’ll leave the vibrating walls of the after hours spot, that divey “rock n’ roll night club” or even after maxing the sub in your car to peep Slime Season 3. Suddenly, the ringing in your ear, that used to be temporary isn’t.

And yes, though rare, for some people plagued with tinnitus the “ringing in their ears becomes [so] unbearable, that death becomes the only relief.”

So how do you balance your love of live music with the need to protect your hearing?  Sikorski suggests earplugs.  We would add that musicians and music venues need to consider what they can do to stop the permanent damage they are inflicting on fans.

Thanks to Hyperacusis Research Limited for the link.  Hyperacusis Research Limited is a non-profit charity dedicated to funding research on what causes hyperacusis with the goal of developing effective treatment.

How Loud is Too Loud?

Do you go out to clubs or concerts?  Then this information is for you: How loud is loud?

Plug ’em is a British Tinnitus Association campaign that “aims to encourage wearing earplugs at gigs, festivals, clubs – basically anywhere you’re exposed to potentially dangerous noise levels.”  They simply want to save millions of people from the pain and frustration of tinnitus and other hearing injuries.  How?  By educating the public about the dangers of loud noise, removing the stigma about wearing ear plugs, and encouraging bars and other venues playing loud music to give patrons free ear plugs.

No one is telling you not to go out to enjoy live music.  Protect your ears so you can enjoy live music your entire life.

You’ve been told that you should wear ear plugs to concerts, now you will know exactly why:

Why you should wear earplugs to concerts.  And the reason is that a research study has proven that ear plug use protects hearing:

[R]esearchers from the Netherlands randomly assigned 51 people, with an average age of 27, attending an outdoor music festival in Amsterdam into two groups: one in which the participants wore ear plugs and another where they did not. The subjects, who were advised to avoid excessive use of alcohol or drugs, had their hearing evaluated right before and immediately after the four-and-a-half hour festival.

* * *

The study found that only 8 percent of people who wore earplugs experienced hearing loss following this exposure, compared with 42 percent of those in the unprotected group. Additionally, fewer participants wearing earplugs felt a ringing in their ears — a condition known as tinnitus — following the festival, compared to those who did not wear earplugs (12 percent versus 40 percent).

The findings are important, the authors say, as repeated instances of loud music exposure can add up to longterm damage.

Hearing damage is cumulative.  Each exposure to loud noise that results in “temporary” hearing loss or ringing in one’s ears may seem limited in time, but each exposure builds on the last and can lead to permanent and irreversible hearing loss.  You only have one set of ears and science has not discovered how to regrow, rejuvenate, or replace the stereocilia that allow you to hear.  Next time you head to a concert or music festival, get a pair of ear plugs and protect your hearing.

NOTE: The statement in the article that “85 dBA is considered the cut off between safe and potentially unsafe loudness levels” is not correct when applied to the general public.  In February 2016, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) posted an article on its Science Blog that stated that the 85 dBA noise exposure limit was intended as a limit for occupational noise exposure and not a safe exposure limit for the public at large.  See, NIOSH Science Blog clarifies difference between occupational and general noise exposure limits.

Thanks to Hyperacusis Research Limited for the link.  Hyperacusis Research Limited is a non-profit charity dedicated to funding research on what causes hyperacusis with the goal of developing effective treatment.

Wonderful if true:

The Future Will Be Quiet.  Click through to read Alana Semuels’ piece on “how the cities and suburbs of the future could become quieter, more peaceful places.”  Ms. Semuels’ cause for optimism rests, in large part, on advances in technology.  While technological advances are welcome, and could, one hopes, be part of the solution, the media should focus more attention on hearing health and the dangers of noise so that Americans are moved to protect themselves instead of waiting for a technological panacea.

Thanks to Daniel Fink, M.D., a noise pollution activist in the Los Angeles area, for the link.  Dr. Fink serves on the board of the American Tinnitus Association.

 

 

Have kids? Protect them from a preventable health threat:

The Starkey Hearing Foundation has launched Listen Carefully, a campaign to raise awareness about noise-induced hearing loss.  The campaign was started to combat a growing public health threat.  Namely, that “one in six American teens has noise-induced hearing loss from loud sounds.”  The Foundation wants to alert the public to this health threat and prevent a hearing loss epidemic.

Go to the Listen Carefully website to learn the facts about noise-induced hearing loss and find out how you can get involved to stop it.

Going to the Superbowl?

Don’t forget your ear plugs! Why?  Because stadium noise is deafening and, unbelievably, encouraged.  The Kansas City Chiefs, for example, actively encourages stadium noise at Arrowhead Stadium, which the franchise boasts is the “loudest in the league.”  In 2013, a “record-setting attempt was planned by Chiefs fans but had support of the organization, which paid $7,500 to fly an adjudicator from Guinness to Kansas City to document the effort.”  They “won” with a record-breaking 137.5 decibels.  And then they did it again in 2014, this time reaching a punishing 142.2 decibels.  On purpose.  Because a lot was at stake: Kansas City Chiefs had to best the Seahawks’ loudest stadium record.  Yes, team fans compete for the glory of having the world’s loudest stadium.

While the various franchises brag about whose fans are the loudest, at least some people recognize that being the ‘world’s loudest stadium’ is a bad idea.  NBC News, reporting on the record attempt, reached out to experts to address the obvious–for some–concern about the effects of extreme noise on hearing:

What [the record-breaking attempt] is most certainly doing is damaging the hearing of every person in attendance. People don’t recognize how much damage they can do to their hearing, says Alison Grimes, an assistant clinical professor of head/neck surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, and director of audiology at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

“People will say, ‘Oh, it was just for 10 minutes,’” Grimes says. “And what I tell my patients is that noise is cumulative over the lifetime. Each time you use a chain saw or ride a motorcycle or go to a stadium to make the sound meter reach the top, it accumulates.”

While the NBC News piece sensibly suggested that fans attending the game purchase over-the-counter ear plugs, it’s likely that most of the fans who were present for this misguided attempt at glory were not protected.  Does that matter?  Will there be long-term consequences for this lapse in judgment?  Sadly, yes.  As Dr. Grimes noted:

“If you’re literally talking about 130 decibels – nobody should ever be exposed to that,” Grimes said. “There isn’t a safe amount of time for 130 decibels. It’s physically painful as well as acoustically damaging.”

Remember, “hair cells in your ear don’t grow back. There is no Rogaine for your inner ear,” warns Grimes. “While hearing aids work really well, there is no substitute for natural hearing.”

Daniel Fink, M.D., a noise pollution activist in the Los Angeles area, believes that the Kansas City organizers missed a golden opportunity to obtain recognition of another world record.  Noting that the record 142.2 dB roar exceeded the Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s (OSHA) maximum Permissible Noise Exposure of 140 dB, he suggested that the organizers should have submitted the event for a second world record: the most people whose hearing was permanently damaged at one time (about 80,000 in attendance).*

So skip the stadium and watch the Super Bowl at home.  Your ears will thank you for it.

*Dr. Fink adds that while there is no law protecting the public from the dangers of loud noise, workers have legal protection provided by OSHA.  On the day of the world record event, stadium employees and players and staff of two NFL teams were exposed to noise exceeding the maximum allowable workplace noise exposure level.  Dr. Fink filed a complaint with OSHA but was informed that the statutory limit for reporting a workplace safety violation had passed.

Turn It Down: How to protect yourself against noise pollution

In “Turn It Down,” Dangerstoppers (Beverly Hills Television) highlights the dangers of noise exposure and its adverse effect on hearing.  The video is very good at informing viewers about dangerous levels of sound and provides tips on how one can limit his or her exposure to noise pollution.  Included in this important piece is Dr. Daniel Fink’s segment on ear plug options for hearing protection.

Thanks to Daniel Fink, M.D., a noise pollution activist in the Los Angeles area, for the video link.  Dr. Fink serves on the board of the American Tinnitus Association.