Impact of NoiseImpact of Noise

Noise is one of the most common causes of hearing loss. Noise induced hearing loss is usually painless and gradual, which often makes it difficult to notice that it is there until it is too late.

Once it happens, it is permanent. When you damage the hair cells in your ear they die and cannot be repaired. This damage results in sensor neural hearing loss, and may also cause tinnitus (ringing of the ears).

Your hearing can be damaged by a combination of three factors - the length of time you expose yourself to a noise, the average level of the noise and the peak level of the noise. However another variable is how susceptible you are to hearing damage. This varies from person to person and you can only know how susceptible you are after you have damaged your hearing.

Daily exposure to noise is a measure of the average noise energy that you hear during a day. The daily exposure to noise is directly related to the risk of hearing damage.

Noise levels are measured in decibels denoted as dB(A) which is a scale that reflects the sensitivity of human ears to different levels of sound The following are decibel levels of common sources of noise. Remember these are average levels and that actual noise levels vary depending on the particular item and where you are in relation to it.

    0 dB the lowest sound level a person with normal hearing can detect

    20 dB is a quiet room at night

    60 dB is ordinary spoken conversation

    80 dB is shouting

    90 dB is an underground railway

    110 dB is a pneumatic drill nearby

    130 dB is an aeroplane taking off 100m away


Experts agree that continued exposure to noise at or above 85dB over time can cause damage to hearing. Simply put, the louder the sound you are listening to, the shorter the time you can listen before causing damage to your hearing...

If you are in a noisy environment, and you have to raise your voice in order to be heard by someone within an arm’s length away, the noise level is probably within the dangerous range. Some of the warning signs of the presence of or exposure to hazardous noise are as follows:

You can’t hear someone three feet away.

You have pain in your ears after leaving a noisy area.

You hear ringing or buzzing (tinnitus) in your ears immediately after exposure to noise.

You suddenly have difficulty understanding speech after exposure to noise; you can hear people talking but you cannot understand them.

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