closeup of a young caucasian man inserting an orange earplug

October has been designated as “National Protect Your Hearing Month.” More than 36 million Americans have a hearing loss (some estimates place the number as high as 43 million).  More than half of those individuals are under the age of 65. One of the leading causes of hearing loss is exposure to excessive amounts of noise.  In other words one of the leading causes of hearing loss is preventable.

Today’s modern world is full of everyday objects that emit hazardous levels of noise. Exposure to sounds that exceed 80 – 85 dB is considered loud enough to potentially damage hearing. Consider your exposure to these common sounds that exceed 85 dB:

  • 85 – 90 dB: Food Blender, Vacuum Cleaner
  • 90 -100 dB: MP3 Player at full volume
  • 110 dB: Concerts and sporting events
  • 130 dB: Ambulance Siren, Firecrackers


Know how loud is too loud. 

Exposure to sounds above 85 decibels (dB) for prolonged periods of time can cause permanent hearing loss. It would take 8 hours of exposure to a vacuum cleaner (85dB) or 4 hours of exposure to a hair dryer or power tools at 90dB to potentially cause permanent hearing loss. As the intensity (volume) of the sound increases the amount of time before exposure to the sound causes damage to your hearing decreases.

Keep the volume down on digital music devices.

Listening to music at a high volume on devices, such as MP3 players for a prolonged amount of time is like having a rock concert in your ears for hours. If the person beside you can hear what you’re listening to, it’s too loud and could be damaging your hearing.

Wear hearing protection around loud noises.

When used properly, the foam ear inserts (pictured above) can work effectively. Comfortable, custom-made ear protection is available from your local hearing healthcare provider for specific purposes and activities such as hunting, musicians, motor-sports enthusiasts, or even for work.