When asked about the causes of hearing loss, you probably think of old age and exposure to loud noise. However, did you know that living in a big city can contribute to hearing loss? This is supported by research – one study published in Environmental Science & Technology found that more than eight in 10 New Yorkers are exposed to enough noise to damage their hearing.
How Loud Sounds Cause Damage
Inside the inner ear is the cochlea, which is lined with tiny hair cells called stereocilia. The stereocilia’s job is to convert incoming soundwaves into electrical energy that travels via the auditory nerve to the brain to be interpreted as sound.
When loud sounds pass through the ears, it can damage or destroy the stereocilia. Once damaged, they do not regenerate, and the result is permanent sensorineural hearing loss.
Any sound over 85 dB – about the volume of passing highway traffic – can cause this type of damage with enough exposure.
City Sounds that Are Damaging
Some of the loud city sounds that can contribute to hearing loss include:
- Public transportation
- Busy restaurants/cafés
- Sporting events
In addition to the sounds of the city, what you use to drown out these sounds can actually cause damage. If you enjoy listening to music, podcasts or audiobooks through earbuds or headphones, it can be damaging if you listen too loud for too long.
Tips for Protecting Your Hearing
Below are some tips for protecting your hearing against the sounds of the city:
- When possible, try to avoid walking on busy roads and near construction sites.
- Don’t live in noisy neighborhoods, like those near an airport or train station.
- When you’re working out of the office, opt for a quiet location like Tulsa City County Library rather than a busy café.
- Wear hearing protection whenever you attend a concert or watch a live sporting event. Musician’s earplugs let safe sounds through clearly while lowering the volume on dangerous sounds without sacrificing sound quality.
- Practice safe listening by following the 60/60 rule: listen at no more than 60% of your device’s maximum volume for no more than 60 minutes at a time.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Eastern Oklahoma Ear, Nose & Throat, Inc. today.