Noise induced hearing loss among children and teens is on the rise. We believe this is related to the increase in noise in our life style. There are many ways young people are exposed to loud sounds. Some of them are music players, car races, and toys such as a fire truck with a siren, all of which can be loud enough to harm hearing.
It’s often difficult to know when a sound is loud enough to be harmful. It is not just about how loud a sound is, “too loud” is a combination of the volume of the sound and how long one is exposed to it. The louder a sound is, the shorter the permissible length of exposure.
Sound is measured in decibels (dB). An exposure to a sound at 85 dB over 8 hours is acceptable. For every three dB increase in the sound, the acceptable time is cut in half. For example if the volume is 88 dB, it is safe for 4 hours, 91 dB is safe for 2 hours, 94 dB for 1 hour, etc.
Plus, the effects of loud sound add up. For example, if he listens to music at 91 dB for four hours and mows the lawn (90 dB) for one hour, then he is hurting his hearing.
Here is a guide to help you determine the volume of some common sounds.
60 dB—Normal conversations or dishwashers
80 dB—Alarm clocks
90 dB—Hair dryers, blenders, and lawnmowers
105 dB—Music players at full volume
110 dB—Concerts, car racing, and sporting events
120 dB—Jet planes at take off
130 dB—Ambulances and fire engine sirens
140 dB—Gun shots, fireworks, and custom car stereos at full volume
Here are a few “rules of thumb” for judging when sound is too loud. It’s too loud if; you have to shout to be heard, if the volume causes pain, if noise makes your ears ring or if you have decreased or muffled hearing after being exposed to the sound.