A new campaign launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) is piquing the interest of children and parents alike. The campaign, Make Listening Safe targets unsafe listening practices in younger generations’ leisure activities. It aims to help educate people, especially young people, about safe listening practices. The WHO recently released statements saying they believe more than 1 billion young people in middle and upper income segments worldwide are at risk for permanent hearing damage.
At least half of those are at risk from using personal headphones or portable phones. Using these devices isn’t the problem. It’s when you turn up the volume to unsafe levels (sustained levels higher than normal speaking levels) that these devices become problematic and are likely to cause permanent hearing loss. Over 40% of those at risk face permanent hearing damage from exposure to extremely loud noises at public venues, like concerts, sporting events and nightclubs. So you wonder, what noise levels ARE safe?
That’s what the Make Listening Safe campaign wants to educate the public about. Normal (and safe!) sound levels are around 65 decibels: conversational speaking levels among people in the same room. A little higher is ok. But exposure to around 85 decibels for longer than 8 hours will begin to destroy inner ear hair cells that are responsible for converting incoming vibrations to understandable sounds in our brain. Exposure to a sound level over 100 decibels only takes 15 minutes to cause permanent hearing damage!
Some listening levels to keep in mind to protect your hearing
- Live musical performances and sporting events can reach 120 and 140+ decibels.
- Top volumes on personal listening devices can reach up to 136 decibels.
- Standing next to a firearm while hunting can come in at about 150-172 decibels.
Make Listening Safe Campaign Recommendations
- Listen to personal listening devices no more than 1 hour per day
- Listen to your smartphone at not over 2/3 of the top listening level
- Limit time spent in noisy situations without ear protection
- Wear earplugs
- Use carefully-fitted, noise cancelling earbuds or headphones
- Monitor safe listening levels for your young ones and set the example for safe listening levels
- Beware of hearing loss warning signs
- Needing to turn music devices up very high to understand
- Difficulty understanding higher pitched sounds like doorbells, telephones, women’s/children’s voices
- Falling grades or other struggles at school
- Needing others to repeat frequently
- Difficulty understanding speech in group or noisy environments
- Get regular hearing check-ups
At Hearing Associates of Las Vegas we encourage you to protect your hearing. If you suspect you or someone in your family has some hearing loss, get tested. Schedule an appointment today for an evaluation and see what we can do to help you.