Written by : Dr. Arthur Zinaman
Dr. Zinaman, your friendly local audiologist here.
This is my 1st official blog entry and by these means I will keep my readers entertained and informed. ‘Entertained and informed’ now that’s a pretty good combination! So please tune in periodically and see what I have to offer. You won’t be disappointed. wo
n’t be disappointed.
Noise. Lots of information, good and bad, about loud noise can be found easily by even a modest investigation. Simply put, we live in a noisy world and we can’t escape it. Loud noise, it’s all around us you know, not perceived as much of a matter, and it typically doesn’t hurt ‘tall. But consider South Florida mornings where the landscape crews are hard at work running their gear, there are plenty of airplanes overhead, all the cars, buses, and trucks scurrying…, the traffic is ceaseless! This is loud noise! We can basically tune this noise out as it’s not meaningful information, but that doesn’t mean it has little effect on hearing.
Noise. So many places where noise is found. Somehow, we don’t worry about how dangerously loud sporting events can be. Sporting events? Huh? OK, Ponder this scenario; the thrilling moment when your team scores and the 70,000-strong crowd’s enthused reaction. The ‘top of lungs’ screaming, the stomping feet, the horns and bells, the PA announcer blasting admiration. That’s a lot of noise! The crowd noise at professional football games hover around 115 decibels (and much higher at exciting game moments) and that, per the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, is in the “extremely loud” range. That’s not so good. According to the CDC the daily permissible noise level exposure at that intensity is about 1-4 minutes! Imagine the damage done to your ears after a 3-4-hour game!
Of course, the dark side of all this is permanent hearing loss. Or increased hearing loss if you already suffer from its effects. The noise in your ears (tinnitus) after being exposed is a symptom of damage to your hearing. Sometimes this is a temporary condition but after repeated exposure, the effect is cumulative and permanent. Let me repeat, PERMANENT. Many spectators also experience temporary hearing loss and, as with the tinnitus, will also be permanent in time. The scary stuff here is that there is no medical, pharmacological, nor surgical cure for noise-induced hearing loss: damaged hair cells cannot regenerate or ‘be fixed’.
The answer to all of this is fairly easy; either stop attending events with lots of cheering fans or simply use ear protection. Once hearing loss begins, however, its progression can be halted by avoiding further exposure to loud sound. We will talk in the future about different types of hearing protection.
So why bring this up in this forum? You may say that sporting events are “not for me”. However; children, grandchildren, friends, neighbors, or family members may plead with their parents/grandparents/care-givers to attend a ball game. It’s well known that noise-induced hearing loss can affect young children, it impairs language acquisition, leads to learning disabilities, increases anxiety and attention-seeking behaviors, and cause irreversible hearing loss (per the WHO). Additionally, noise exposure in children is reflected in lowered academic performance and outcomes as well as reduced motivation and concentration (CDC). Who wants any of that for their loved ones? Taking your grandchild to a sporting event? Use ear protection!
That’s it for now. Stay away from loud noise. Use ear protection if you can’t remove yourself from the environment. Do whatever you can to protect your hearing. Be aware that hearing-damaging-noise is all around us. Stay vigilant and shield your hearing from damage!
Stay tuned for the next blog entry will explore the types and effectiveness of ear protection.