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Excessive noise is one of the primary causes of hearing loss. Permanent hearing loss can occur almost instantly with unprotected exposure to certain sounds. The consequences of this damage are high-frequency hearing loss, difficulty hearing in noise and/or tinnitus. If you are worried about hearing loss due to excessive noise, request an appointment for a hearing evaluation through MyChart.

How to Avoid Excess Noise

  • Wear hearing protection if the sound level around you exceeds 85 dB
  • Lower your TV and music volume, especially if you use headphones or earbuds
  • Wear custom noise filters or solid earplugs when you go to concerts, nightclubs, stadiums and other loud places
  • Use noise-canceling headphones or other ear protection when using noisy equipment such as drills, lawnmowers, saws, chainsaws, etc.

Types of Hearing Protection

  • Foam earplugs – a non-custom, one-time use, one-size-fits-all form of protection that is the most widely recognized and used
  • Custom earplugs – custom fit to the contours of a person’s unique ear; last for an extended amount of time and can be used in many situations. Can be used for: watersport, motorsport, industrial, sleep, music, etc.
  • Electronic hearing protection – digital products that feature high-definition sound enhancement and automatic noise suppression

Decibel Levels

Decibels (dB) measure the intensity of sound. Experts typically consider exposure to more than 85 dB to be dangerous.

  • A whisper is about 20 dB.
  • Loud music (some concerts) is around 80 to 120 dB.
  • A jet engine is about 140 to 180 dB.

Sound Levels of Common Noises

Decibels noise source:

Safe range:

  • 30 - Whisper
  • 40 - Refrigerator
  • 60 - Normal conversation
  • 75 - Dishwasher

Risk range:

  • 85 - Heavy city traffic, school cafeteria
  • 95 - Motorcycle
  • 100 - Snowmobile
  • 110 - Chain saw, jackhammer, rock concert, symphony
  • 115 - Sandblasting
  • 120 - Ambulance siren, thunder
  • 140 -165 - Firecracker, firearms
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