Exposure to excessively loud noises is well known to cause a whole host of hearing-related issues, including permanent hearing loss. While many of us anticipate exposure to these kinds of noises when we go to a sporting event or loud bar, but did you know that your hearing might be threatened even from within your own home?
Especially during the colder fall and winter months, when we spend a lot of our time indoors inside our own homes, the noises created by our day-to-day living can be a serious cause for concern when it comes to the potential for hearing hazards. Although many of these dangerous noises can be absorbed by the soft goods inside our homes, like carpets and furniture, noise levels can easily creep up to dangerous levels if left unattended.
How Loud Is Too Loud?
Hearing loss is much more common than you might think. According to the NIDCD (the National Institutes for Deafness and Other Communication Disorders), upward of 24% of adults under the age of 70 suffer from some form of noise-induced hearing loss.
This type of hearing loss is often caused by prolonged or continuous exposure to noises over 85 dB, but it can also be caused by a one-time exposure to something much louder. Essentially, the louder the noise, the less time it takes to cause some serious damage to your ears.
These loud noises cause hearing loss by affecting the tiny hair cells within the ear that are responsible for transmitting electrical impulses created by sounds to the brain. Each of our hair cells transmits a different frequency, so once they are damaged by excessive noise, we have a permanent inability to hear at those frequencies.
How Loud Is My Home?
Despite all of the evidence showing that exposure to loud noises can cause irreversible hearing loss, many people still don’t realize that some of the biggest threats to their hearing are found inside their own homes. The excessive noise in our homes is almost always caused by our appliances and other modern conveniences (and perhaps screaming children, too).
According to Quiet Home Lab, many of our favorite appliances are to blame for the excessively high noise levels in our homes. Here are some of the devices to look out for:
Garbage disposal: 80-95 dB
Blender: 80-90 dB
Food processor: 80-90 dB
Flush toilet: 75-85 dB
Hair dryer: 60-95 dB
Vacuum cleaner: 60-85 dB
While it’s unlikely that many of us would choose to live without some of these appliances – even for the sake of our hearing health – there are things we can do to manage our exposure to these noises in the long term. To start with, if you’re in the market for new appliances or household goods that make noise, take a look at the manufacturer’s specifications to see how loud the device actually is. Many companies have started including this information on their packaging.
If you aren’t planning to purchase any new appliances in the near future, you can still take steps to mitigate your exposure to these loud noises. If you use these appliances frequently, you might consider investing in a pair of custom-molded earplugs, which can help reduce the noise damage to your ears while still allowing you to hear your surroundings. Or, you can be a bit more particular about when you use these appliances as avoiding the use of noisy appliances at night when you’re trying to relax, can help reduce the noise’s effects on the body.