What is noise?
Simply put, noise refers to annoying sounds or sounds that are too loud and can harm human health.
The main factors that contribute to hearing damage from noise are the intensity of the sound, the distance from the sound source, and the duration of exposure.
We commonly use decibels (dB) to measure the intensity of sound. A soft whisper near your ear is around 30 dB, while a normal conversation is typically around 60 dB. Every increase of 10 dB means that the sound intensity has doubled. So, at your ear, it would be twice as loud.
Sounds below 70 dB are generally considered safe. However, over time, sounds at or above 85 dB can potentially harm your hearing.
Research has found that prolonged exposure to noise levels of 85 dB or higher significantly increases the risk of hearing loss. That's why some workers are required to wear hearing protection devices, such as earplugs or earmuffs, while on the job.
Today, many devices used by children produce noise levels that far exceed 85 dB. For example, music played through headphones at maximum volume is usually around 94-110 dB. To put it into perspective, the intensity at 110 dB is over 100 times louder than 85 dB!
Let's take a look at everyday sounds that can potentially damage our hearing.
Sounds reaching 120 dB (the level of an ambulance siren) can cause pain in our ears at close range. If you are exposed to noise around 110 dB for more than 1 minute on a regular basis, you may suffer permanent hearing loss.
Here is a general guideline for the maximum tolerable exposure time for damaging noise.
Noise can harm humans in various ways, with the most obvious being damage to the auditory organs. In addition to auditory damage, it can also cause headaches, dizziness, insomnia, high blood pressure, changes in electrocardiogram readings, and affect the motility and secretion of the digestive system.
Whether it's a single brief exposure to intense impulse noise or long-term repeated exposure to noise, it is collectively referred to as noise-induced hearing loss, also known as noise-induced deafness.
Noise-induced deafness is common among people who work in noisy environments, such as naval engine personnel, tank drivers, airport ground staff, textile factory workers, as well as those who frequently use headphones to listen to portable music devices or regularly visit karaoke halls and concert venues.
The degree of hearing loss is influenced by factors such as the duration of noise exposure, the intensity and nature of the noise, and individual sensitivity.
Prevention is key when it comes to noise-induced hearing loss, as there is currently no definitive cure.
To prevent it, it's important to lower the volume, stay away from noisy environments, and use earplugs or earmuffs for sound insulation.
For those who have already experienced noise-induced hearing loss, treatment involves promptly removing oneself from noisy environments, using medications to alleviate complications, and for those with residual hearing ability, chosgo hearing aids like the Smart U Rechargeable Hearing Aids can be fitted. If hearing aids are not suitable, middle ear implant surgery (such as a Vibrant Soundbridge implant) can be considered. In cases of severe hearing loss where hearing aids provide no benefit, cochlear implantation may be an option to address the patient's auditory communication needs.