Health and Wellness

When does sound become too loud for your ears?

If you’ve ever been to a music festival or concert, you will know the feeling when the band starts to play, cutting through the space at an incredibly loud volume. It’s in situations like this that you could imagine such a sound level must be bad for your hearing.

While sudden loud noises are easily identifiable as being almost too loud for us to listen to comfortably, what is our safe hearing threshold? When does sound go from being atmospheric to dangerous?

Safer listening for longer 

As you can imagine, there is a gradual scale of risk associated with both volume and listening time. We can ostensibly safely hear quieter sounds for longer, and can only handle short bursts of louder volumes before damage can occur.

The National Acoustic Laboratories (NAL) explains that we can listen to sound under 75 decibels for an unlimited time with minimal impact1. This is roughly equivalent to the volume of a washing machine, a vacuum cleaner or a regular conversation.

However, it is once this threshold is surpassed, that issues begin to arise. After eight hours listening to 85 dB – about the volume of a busy road – you face permanent hearing damage2, which can contribute to noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).

Music concerts and nightclubs are known to surpass 100 dB, which takes only 15 minutes of exposure to impact your ears according to Dangerous Decibels2. For people who spend long hours working in a noisy environment, such as a building site, it is vital you are using the correct ear protection to ensure the integrity of your hearing for years to come.

If you have been exposed to noisy environments in the past and believe your hearing may have changed, click here or call 1300 674 934 to request a no cost* hearing check-up with Adelaide Digital Hearing Solutions.

1 NAL, Hearing Loss Prevention (Protection). Accessed November 25, 2015.

2Dangerous Decibels, Noise-induced hearing loss. November 25, 2015.

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