Your house is a noisy place, from the people living there to the electronics and appliances always running. While some sounds are absorbed by the soft fabrics of your curtains, carpeting and furniture, many are not. These loud noises inside your home can put your hearing at risk and cause irreversible damage.
What Is Noise Induced Hearing Loss?
Sounds are measured in decibels (dB). Anything under 85 dB is considered safe, and sounds above this benchmark can lead to permanent hearing loss.
Environmental sounds are picked up by the tiny hair cells within the ear, known as stereocilia. These hair cells translate the soundwaves into electrical impulses, which are sent to the brain via the auditory nerve where they are interpreted as sounds. When a sound is too loud (over 85 dB), it can damage the hair cells. Once a hair cell is damaged, it cannot regenerate.
The National Institute for Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) estimates that as many as 24 percent of Americans under the age of 70 experience noise induced hearing loss. This type of hearing loss can occur after exposure to one very loud sound, such as an explosion, or exposure to loud sounds over a long period of time.
Your House Is Louder than You Think
An easy way to determine if something is loud enough to cause damage is to ask yourself if you can carry on a conversation with someone standing near you. If you are missing words or need to ask them to repeat themselves, it is too loud.
It may come as a surprise to learn that many household appliances produce sounds at unsafe decibel levels. This can be harmful to your hearing over time.
The Quiet Home Lab put together a list of common appliances and their average decibel reading.
- Vacuum cleaner: 60-85 dB
- Hair dryer: 60-95 dB
- Blender: 80-90 dB
- Washing machine: 50-75 dB
- Television: 70 dB
- Doorbell and telephone ring: 80 dB
- Garbage disposal: 70-95 dB
How to Protect Your Hearing
When buying a new appliance, make sure to do your research. Many manufacturers include decibel levels on newer models to help consumers make healthier purchasing decisions. When watching TV or listening to a podcast, turn the volume down. Invest in hearing protection to wear when working with power tools, and use earplugs when running the vacuum cleaner or blender.
Making these small changes can help prevent noise induced hearing loss.
Interested in learning more about protecting your hearing? Contact the experts at Valley Audiologist and schedule a visit today.