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Noise Exposure: How Bad Can It Be?

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DR TREASURE KENNY

By DR TREASURE KENNY

Many of us want to feel the beat when listening to music and prefer louder volume levels. But how detrimental is this to our hearing? Continuing with the theme of Audiology Awareness Month, hearing protection is a vital component of healthy hearing.

The more consistently we’re exposed to very loud noises, the greater the chances of hearing loss. In fact, with increasing loudness, even less time is required to cause permanent damage. The popular Apple AirPods have a maximum output of approximately 109 dB SPL. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) states that with regular exposure at this level, less than two minutes are required before hearing damage may occur.

Noise becomes dangerous whenever you have to shout to be heard, it physically hurts your ears or brings about ringing or muffled hearing after an extended period. As it stands, once your hearing is permanently damaged it cannot be reversed. But the great news is that noise-induced hearing loss is preventable. Sometimes it’s as simple as distancing yourself from loud noise. Always remember to wear hearing protection such as earplugs, earmuffs or noise cancelling headphones when near very loud noise and to keep the audio output of your earbuds at a moderate listening level. If you cannot hear anything in the background, then the volume level is too loud.

Visit the Family Medicine Center for a hearing exam. We also offer custom hearing protection for recreational use, musicians and industrial workers.

• Dr Treasure Kenny is an audiologist. She can be reached at the Family Medicine Centre on Blake Road. Call 702-9310.

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