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Six Hidden Hazards of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss to Watch for This Summer

By July 8, 2024No Comments
jet ski

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) can happen to anyone at any age. It is often associated with long-term exposure to loud environments like rock concerts, prolonged factory work, or heavy machinery. But, noise-induced hearing loss can happen in many different ways. It can even happen after a single exposure to an intense “impulse” sound — like a firework.

Summer activities are so much fun, but many of them can come with hidden risks for our hearing. 

In this post, we’re going to share some common situations that can lead to hearing loss so you can protect yourself and your loved ones this year, and for years to come!

1. Recreational Water Sports

Jet Skis and Powerboats: Engines can produce noise levels well above 85 dB, the threshold at which prolonged exposure can cause hearing damage. It’s really easy to overlook this risk since the sound of the engine is partially masked by the water and the open air.

Speedboats and Wakeboarding: These activities often involve loud engines and splashing water, creating a noisy environment that can harm your hearing over time. It’s not always fun to wear ear protection when you’re having fun on the water, but it’s the smart thing to do!

2. Outdoor Sporting Events

Motorsports and Air Shows: Summertime events like car races and air shows can expose spectators to noise levels exceeding 100 dB. Because the events are outdoors, fans might overlook hearing protection, but at these levels, it is important to be vigilant.

Stadium Sports: Attending live sports games can be thrilling, but the combined noise from the crowd, music, and other announcements can reach harmful levels. On top of that, the bowl shape of a stadium can amplify these sounds, so you definitely want to protect your ears!

3. DIY Projects and Yard Work

Lawn Equipment: Activities such as using a chainsaw, leaf blower, or even a high-powered lawnmower can generate enough noise to risk hearing damage. According to the CDC, leaf blowers can reach 90-100 dB, and chainsaws can exceed 110 dB.

Power Tools: Using drills, saws, and other power tools without proper ear protection can significantly increase the risk of noise-induced hearing loss. Most common power tools range from about 80 dB to 120 dB. Always wear earplugs when working on DIY projects.

4. Summer Events and Activities

Fireworks: Fireworks can reach noise levels from 140 to 160 dB. Your proximity to the explosion can significantly increase the risk of immediate hearing damage. Always maintain a safe distance and consider wearing ear protection, especially for children.

Summer Festivals and Parades: The ambient noise levels at crowded festivals or parades can reach surprisingly harmful levels, especially when music is involved. Prolonged exposure to these kinds of environments without hearing protection can lead to hearing loss.

5. Fitness Classes

Amplified Music: Fitness instructors often like to use loud music to motivate participants. We think of this a lot with indoor classes, but the volume needed to overcome background noise outdoors can also be substantially higher than what’s considered safe.

Outdoor Bootcamps: These high-energy fitness classes use loudspeakers to lead exercises, creating noise levels that can be harmful over time. Be mindful of your exposure, and consider using earplugs or moving as far away from the loudspeakers as possible.

6. Children’s Toys and Events

Noisy Toys: Toys with high volume settings — such as toy guns, musical instruments, and electronic devices — can produce sounds over 85 dB. These toys can damage a child’s developing hearing, and they can even pose a risk to nearby adults!

Theme Parks and Fairs: Theme parks and fairs with loud rides or shows can pose a risk to children’s hearing, a concern often overlooked by parents. Sound levels on some rides can exceed 100 dB, making it essential to monitor and protect young ears.

Quick Tips to Prevent NIHL This Summer:

  • Use Ear Protection: Earplugs or earmuffs should be used in any situation where noise levels are expected to be high.
  • Educate Yourself: Understanding which activities pose a risk can help you make more informed decisions about noise exposure.
  • Monitor Volume Levels: Using smartphone or smartwatch apps to monitor environmental noise levels can help identify when hearing protection is needed.
  • Get Regular Check-ups: Routine hearing tests can help detect early signs of NIHL, which can allow for more timely intervention.

We hope this information inspired you to be more proactive about protecting your hearing in the months ahead. We don’t want your summer fun to lead to tinnitus or long-term hearing damage!

If you have concerns about your hearing or want to learn more about how to protect it, don’t hesitate to reach out. We have a wide array of custom hearing protection! 

At Hearing Health Clinic, our experienced audiologists provide you with a customized fit. 

Schedule your appointment today by calling 763-657-0675. Protect your hearing this summer and enjoy the sounds of life safely!