If you’ve ever attended a modern rock concert and found yourself saying, “That music is way too darned loud,” it doesn’t necessarily indicate that you’re getting old. It could mean that your body is attempting to tell you something – that you’re in a situation that may impair your ability to hear. If after the event you’ve been left with a ringing in your ears (tinnitus), or you’re struggling to hear as well for several days, you’ve probably experienced noise-induced hearing loss, abbreviated NIHL.
Noise induced hearing loss can happen even after a single exposure to very loud music, because the high decibel noises harm small hair cells in the inner ear that detect auditory signals and translate them into sounds. Typically, the noise-induced hearing loss brought on by one single exposure to really loud noise or music is temporary, and should go away within a couple of days. However if you continue to expose your ears to loud noise or music, it can cause tinnitus that does not go away, or a long-term loss of hearing.
A pair of factors determine how much harm is done to hearing by contact with very loud sounds – precisely how loud the noises are, and the amount of time you are in contact with them. The loudness of sound is measured in decibels, a scale that is somewhat illusory because it’s logarithmic, meaning that every increase of 10 on the scale means that the sound is twice as loud. Thus the noise of busy city traffic (85 decibels) is not just a little bit louder than the sound of normal speech (65 decibels), it’s four times as loud. The decibel rating at average rock concerts is 115, meaning that these sound levels are 10 times louder than standard speech. Together with precisely how loud the music is, the second factor that impacts how much damage is done is how long you’re exposed to it, the permissible exposure time. As an example, contact with noises of 85 decibels can cause hearing problems after only eight hours. At 115 decibels the permissible exposure time before you face the possibility of hearing loss is under a minute. Coupled with the fact that the sound level at some concerts has been measured at over 140 decibels, and you have a high risk predicament.
Projections from audiologists claim that by the year 2050 around fifty million people will have sustained hearing loss resulting from exposure to loud music. Live concert promoters, since being informed about this, have begun to offer fans low-cost earplugs to wear during their shows.One producer of these ear plugs even entered into a collaboration with a British rock band to provide its earplugs to fans for free. Some concertgoers have reported seeing signs inside various venues that say, “Earplugs are sexy.” Earplugs may, in reality, not be particularly sexy, but they might just save your valuable hearing.
Any of our hearing specialists right here would be pleased to supply you with information regarding earplugs. If a high decibel rock and roll concert is in your future, we strongly suggest that you consider donning a pair.