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Hearing Safety

by Administrator User | Jul 11, 2012

Here is a reprint from

When you notice a difference between loud sounds and quiet ones, your ears are perceiving changes in sound pressure level. Intensity (or volume) is measured in decibels (dB). Zero (0) dB is the softest sound that can be heard. Normal conversation is around 40dB to 60dB, a whisper around 30dB. A rock concert can average between 110 and 120 dB. Pain from hearing is subjective. Levels below 125 dB may be painful to some individuals. The sound from a jet plane is approximately 140 dB.

At rock shows, the dB level can be as great as 140 dB in front of the speakers, but less than 120 dB at the back which is still very loud and dangerous.Danger Zone

The maximum exposure time for unprotected ears per day is 8 hours at 85 dB SPL, A-weighted, slow response For every 3 dB increase in volume, the maximum exposure time is cut in half.

  • 95 dB - 4 hours

  • 100 dB - 2 hours

  • 110 dB - 30 min

  • 120 dB- 7.5 min

Many hearing professionals believe that these permissible levels are still too high for hearing safety. NIOSH, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommends 85 dB for eight hours a day.

Other sources of noise: boom cars, bars, dance clubs, motorcycles, auto races, monster trucks, farm and factory equipment, power tools, guns, sporting events, crowd noise, stereo headsets.

Hearing Damage

Noise-induced hearing loss affects both the quantity and the quality of sound. Understanding human speech becomes difficult because words become indistinct. Excessive sound exposure damages hearing by over-stimulating the tiny hair cells within the inner ear. There are between 15,000 and 20,000 of these microscopic sensory receptors in the cochlea (coke-lee-ah). When these hair cells are damaged, they no longer transmit sound to the brain. Sounds are muffled. Hearing damage through noise exposure is permanently lost. Hearing aids amplify the remainder of your hearing.

Is Your Hearing at Risk?

Warning signs:
After exposure to loud music or noise you may experience one or more of the following:

  • Ringing or buzzing in the ears

  • Slight muffling of sounds

  • Difficulty in understanding speech. You can hear all the words, but you can't understand them.

  • Difficulty in hearing conversation in groups of people when there is background noise, or in rooms with poor acoustics.

If you experience any of these early warnings, don't wait to seek help. Have your hearing checked by an audiologist, or have your ears examined by an ear specialist. Protect your hearing by wearing ear plugs or turning down the volume. Take breaks. Give your ears a chance to recover.


Here's an easy, safe and effective way for musicians and fans to check to make sure loud concerts aren't hurting your ears.

Before the show, set the volume of your car radio to a level where you can barely hear the words. A talk show works best, as sometimes it is hard to understand lyrics in music. After the concert, turn on the radio to the same setting.

Can you still hear and understand the words? If not, you're experiencing a form of short term hearing loss called temporary threshold shift. When this happens too many times, the damage can become permanent.

If you notice these early warning signs, or have any hearing difficulties, get your hearing checked by an audiologist or physician. Other signs of possible problems can be acute or chronic dizziness, pain, discomfort, and drainage from you ears. If you have any of these symptoms, consult an ear specialist.


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