Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fireworks, construction, marching bands can cause permanent hearing loss

Date:
June 17, 2014
Source:
Loyola University Health System
Summary:
One in 10 Americans has hearing loss that affects their ability to understand normal speech. Exposure to excessive noise also can damage hearing in higher pitches. “Hearing loss due to excessive noise is totally preventable, unlike hearing loss due to old age or a medical condition,” one expert says.

Summer sounds include much more than crickets chirping. Outdoor concerts, parades, 4th of July fireworks, public transportation and construction sites all have one thing in common: High decibels of noise.

"Once hearing is damaged, it cannot be repaired," said Jyoti Bhayani, a certified audiologist at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, part of Loyola University Health System. She particularly sounds off on headphone usage. "Hearing aids have yet to become status symbols so young people need to wise up and turn the volume down on their earbuds."

One in 10 Americans has hearing loss that affects their ability to understand normal speech. Aging is the most common cause of this condition. However, exposure to excessive noise also can damage hearing in higher pitches.

"Hearing loss due to excessive noise is totally preventable, unlike hearing loss due to old age or a medical condition," Dr. Bhayani says.

Here are the registered levels for common sounds:

  • 30 decibels -- soft whisper
  • 50 decibels -- rain
  • 60 decibels -- normal conversation/computer typing
  • 70 decibels -- expressway traffic
  • 85 decibels -- earplugs recommended for prolonged exposure at this level
  • 90 decibels -- subway, lawnmower, shop tools
  • 100 decibels -- chainsaw, snowmobile, drill
  • 110 decibels -- power saw
  • 115 decibels -- loud rock concert, sandblasting, car horn
  • 130 decibels -- race car
  • 150 decibels -- fireworks/jet engine takeoff
  • 170 decibels -- shotgun

Music to my Ears, or Just Plain Noise?

"It is important to know the intensity of the sounds around you," said Dr. Bhayani, who regularly cares for construction and factory workers, frequent air travelers and seniors in her practice at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital.

"I recommend using hearing protection devices for those who are exposed to excessive, loud noises and musician's earplugs, which simply attenuate the intensity/loudness without altering frequency response."

Loud Noise Permanently Kills Ear Nerve Endings Three small bones in the middle ear help transfer sound vibrations to the inner ear where they become nerve impulses that the brain interprets as sound. "When noise is too loud, it begins to kill the hair cells and nerve endings in the inner ear," Dr. Bhayani explained. "The louder a noise, the longer the exposure, and the closer you are to the noise source, the more damaging it is to your nerve endings, or your hearing." As the number of nerve endings decreases due to damage, so does your hearing. Nerve endings cannot be healed or regenerated and the damage is permanent.

Ear Bud Warning Use of ear bud headphones may save your ears from being assaulted by the noise of your teenagers' music or electronic game, but it may be damaging your child's hearing. "Three in five Americans, especially youth, are prone to develop hearing loss due to loud music being delivered via ear buds," said Dr. Bhayani.

Helpful Hearing Hints Here are a few summertime tips from Dr. Bhayani:

  • Cover your ears: "Generic, over-the-counter earplugs are inexpensive and can be found at any drugstore," Dr. Bhayani said. "However, they can be custom-made for comfort and durability. Buy earplugs now and keep them handy in wallets, backpacks, briefcases and purses so you can pop them in when noise is loud and continuous." Dr. Bhayani also suggests using a scarf or even covering your ears with your hands to muffle sound.
  • Swimmer's ear and cotton swabs: "Swimmer's ear is caused by painful membrane swelling due to trapped moisture in the outer ear," Dr. Bhayani said. "Multicolor customized plugs for swimming are available and a good investment to avoid painful, or costly, ear infections." After swimming, Dr. Bhayani recommends tilting the head to drain water from each ear and gently wiping the outer ear with a towel. Do not use cotton-tipped swabs to clean ears. "Swabs can actually push wax or harmful material farther into ears, and many people use them improperly or too forcefully, which can cause pain or damage."
  • The plane truth: Many air travelers complain about ear discomfort when the plane is taking off or landing. "Yawning, swallowing, chewing gum and sucking on hard candy also are effective in unplugging the ears," Dr. Bhayani said. If yawning and swallowing are not effective, pinch the nostrils shut, take a mouthful of air, and direct the air into the back of the nose as if trying to blow the nose gently. This may have to be repeated several times during the plane's descent.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Loyola University Health System. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Loyola University Health System. "Fireworks, construction, marching bands can cause permanent hearing loss." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140617164244.htm>.
Loyola University Health System. (2014, June 17). Fireworks, construction, marching bands can cause permanent hearing loss. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140617164244.htm
Loyola University Health System. "Fireworks, construction, marching bands can cause permanent hearing loss." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140617164244.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Artificial Sweetener Could Promote Diabetes

Artificial Sweetener Could Promote Diabetes

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) Doctors once thought artificial sweeteners lacked the health risks of sugar, but a new study says they can impact blood sugar levels the same way. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Vaccine Trial Gets Underway at Oxford University

Ebola Vaccine Trial Gets Underway at Oxford University

AFP (Sep. 17, 2014) A healthy British volunteer is to become the first person to receive a new vaccine for the Ebola virus after US President Barack Obama called for action against the epidemic and warned it was "spiralling out of control." Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obesity Rates Steady Even As Americans' Waistlines Expand

Obesity Rates Steady Even As Americans' Waistlines Expand

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) Researchers are puzzled as to why obesity rates remain relatively stable as average waistlines continue to expand. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins