The most common causes of hearing loss are aging and exposure to loud noises. But did you know that where you live can also affect whether or not you have hearing loss? It turns out, living in big cities is associated with higher rates of hearing loss. In fact, one study from 2012 uncovered that more than eight in 10 New Yorkers are exposed to enough noise to damage their hearing.
We cover how living in a big city can contribute to hearing loss as well as tips to help you protect your hearing below.
How Loud Sounds Cause Damage
The inner ear contains the cochlea, which is a small organ lined with tiny hair cells called stereocilia. When sounds pass through the ears, it activates the stereocilia, which transforms the sound vibrations into electrical impulses that travel via the auditory nerve to the brain to be interpreted as sound.
When dangerously loud sounds pass through the ears, it can damage or destroy the stereocilia, which do not regenerate. The result is permanent sensorineural hearing loss. Any sound over 85 dB can have this effect with enough exposure. For example, eight hours of exposure to passing highway traffic can cause this type of permanent damage.
Damaging City Sounds
City sounds that can contribute to noise-induced hearing loss include:
- Public transportation
- Busy restaurants/cafés
- Sporting events
Note, however, it may not be the actual sounds of the city that cause damage to your hearing, but what you use to mask it. In fact, listening to music, podcasts and audiobooks at high volume through headphones or earbuds can also cause noise-induced hearing loss.
Tips for Protecting Your Hearing
Try the following tips to protect your hearing while living in the city:
- Try to avoid walking on busy roads.
- Avoid walking by construction sites and sports stadiums.
- Don’t live in noisy neighborhoods like those near the train station or airport.
- Work in quiet settings like Los Angeles Central Library rather than a busy coffee shop.
- Wear hearing protection whenever you’re attending a concert or sporting event.
- Practice the 60/60 rule: listen at no more than 60% of your device’s maximum volume for no more than 60 minutes at a time.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with a hearing professional, call The House Institute today.