It's well documented that age can contribute to hearing loss, but did you know other factors such as noises can too?
It is known that attending loud concerts and festivals and listening to music at high volume through headphones can all result in deterioration of our hearing.
Hearing loss can happen to anyone who’s exposed to loud noises if the negative conditions are right. For the adolescent and baby boomer segments of the population, the most common cause of hearing loss is prolonged, chronic exposure to loud noises. This is called noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), and it’s permanent. If you listen to a loud noise for too long, it begins to damage the tiny nerve cells in your inner ear that are responsible for hearing.
It helps to understand that the intensity of sound is measured in units called decibels (dB). Here’s a breakdown of a few common decibel levels for everyday noises:
Ongoing exposure to sounds above 85 dB can cause permanent hearing loss over time. Even a one-time event such as a gunshot or explosion at close proximity can do lasting damage. The rule of thumb for unprotected ears is that the allowed exposure time decreases by one-half for each 5 dB increase in the sound. For instance, you can listen to a 90 dB sound for eight hours per day, a 95 dB sound for four hours per day and a 100 dB sound for two hours per day
Musical concerts and movies offer wonderful experiences, but can hurt your hearing. Consider wearing hearing protection if you are in a loud commercial, industrial, or recreational environment. Protect yourself whenever you’re firing guns or near people who are. Avoid loud rock concerts—or at least wear earplugs if you do attend.
Tips to protect your hearing during prolonged exposure to high volume levels:
Although children's hearing is no more susceptible to damage from exposure to excessive sound levels, the consequences of permanent hearing loss can be greater for children as there may be adverse effects on their speech and language development as well as on their educational and social development. So, it's even more important for children's hearing to well protected at festivals.
There are hearing protectors designed specifically for children but they will only be effective if they are fitted correctly so that both ear canals are sealed.
Adults accompanying children need to keep a careful watch to make sure that ear protectors are inserted properly and that they stay that way.
Naturally, keeping children well away from the stage and loudspeakers is really important so that they can continue to enjoy music for a lifetime rather than having it spoilt by premature hearing loss and tinnitus.