Health News

NOISE AND HEARING INFORMATION

Why is noise hazardous to hearing? The most vital area for normal hearing is the inner ear or cochlea. It is the area permanently damaged by excessive noise. Very loud sounds make significant vibrations inside the ear that distort and tear the very delicate membranes and structures.

Why don't we avoid loud sounds? The inner ear does not sense sharp pain. It does not warn you. Most people think no noise pain, no danger. Wrong!

Even if loud noise does not produce any sharp pain, it may still cause you damage. If you are continually exposed to loud noise (e.g. 90 decibels) over a day it can produce permanent damage to the cochlea without any sharp pain to warn you. Extremely loud sound (e.g. 130 decibels) may stimulate pain fibres in your eardrum signalling an earache.

Tips for protecting your hearing:

  • Avoid loud sounds and noise
  • If you can't avoid loud sound, you should protect your ears with earplugs or earmuffs. Balls of cottonwool or tissue offer little protection.
  • Sudden, very intense sounds, such as gunshots, are particularly dangerous and can cause immediate, permanent hearing loss.
  • Use hearing protection such as earplugs at loud music events. Special earplugs can be made for musicians to protect their hearing while preserving the sound quality of the music.
  • Give your ears frequent rest from noise. Limit your time in very noisy places and take regular breaks in quieter areas.
  • Set the volume of your portable music player at a moderate level. Don't turn up the volume of your stereo to try to drown out background noise. As a general rule, set the volume to a level where you can hear someone at arm's length without them having to shout.

Jenny Hill - College Nurse