While hobbies are a great way to stay active and engaged, some can reach dangerously high volumes that can damage your ears. Let’s look at a few popular hobbies that can cause hearing loss, as well as how to protect your ears.
How Loud Is Too Loud When It Comes To Hearing Loss?
While you may assume that only extremely loud noises can cause hearing loss, that’s not true. According to the National Institutes on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) “long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 dBA can cause hearing loss.” This is roughly equivalent to the volume of city traffic, and many popular activities can reach levels above 100 dBA.
Is Hearing From Loud Noise Permanent?
Loud noise damages the hair cells of the inner ear, known as stereocilia. These cells play a crucial role in the hearing process. Unfortunately, once they are damaged, they cannot regenerate or be surgically repaired. This means that noise-induced hearing loss is permanent, and while it can be treated with hearing aids or other assistive listening devices, it cannot be reversed.
Wear Hearing Protection When Engaging in These Hobbies
While not an exhaustive list, these are some popular hobbies that require hearing protection.
- Listening to live music. Los Angeles has no shortage of amazing concert venues. Who doesn’t love going to see their favorite band play or check out a new band? Unfortunately, live music can also reach very loud volumes, above 100 dBA, putting you at risk for hearing loss and tinnitus.
- Being in a band. If you’re a music lover, you might not just like going to concerts but playing in them as well. Whether you play at a few local venues or just get together with friends for a jam session every week, your ears are likely exposed to harmful volumes.
- Firearms shooting. Unlike music, where prolonged noise exposure is typically the problem, the short but extremely loud sound that can come from firing a gun can damage your inner ear cells quickly without protection. Hence the term “shooter’s ear,” which is when damage occurs to the ear on the side of a person’s shooting shoulder.
- Riding motorcycles or snowmobiles. While maybe not the first danger you think of when riding one of these vehicles, doing so can absolutely reach levels that can cause permanent hearing loss.
Choosing Hearing Protection
If you love any of these activities, you don’t have to give them up. You just need to make sure you wear the proper hearing protection. This may come in the form of store-bought earplugs, custom earmolds, earmuffs or protection made specifically for certain activities, like hunting or playing music.
What works best for you will depend on what activity you’re doing, how much of a decibel reduction you need, as well as what feels most comfortable.
To learn more about your hearing protection options or to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, call The House Institute Hearing Health Centers today.