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7 ways to make yourself deaf (without even trying)


by Vincent Howard, Hearology’s Chief Audiologist on
Also published on netdoctor.co.uk

hearing test blog image1. Do you play in an orchestra? You might think that hearing damage is confined to rock musicians, but this is most definitely not the case. The viola sounds innocuous enough, but it can still get pretty loud. Your biggest danger however as a viola player is the brass section that you sit in front of, which can peak at 140dB – jet engine levels! 80dB is the danger threshold, above which the noise levels cause irreparable damage to the delicate hair cells in your inner ear that turn sound waves into electrical impulses. It’s these electrical impulses that your brain processes into ‘hearing’, and they do not repair themselves. If you take a microscopic view of the hair cells of someone with hearing loss, you will see how they look hacked and razed, like a wheat field after a huge storm. I recommend if you are a DJ, a musician of any genre, or a conductor, that you wear hearing protection without fail to prevent certain hearing loss.

2. Frequent flyers know the importance of regular hydration – resulting in several trips upand down the aisle to the onboard bathrooms during the flight. I recently measured the vacuum flush noise level on a plane at 110dB (yes, I do take my decibel counter with me everywhere I go). The simple trick I use to avoid causing my ears distress when using the airborne lavatory is to go with my headphones on!

3. The average nightclub plays music at 120 decibels – this means certain hearing loss in the course of a night out. And if you stand close to the bass woofer, the sound level increases to 125 decibels. At these levels, you could suffer some form of irreparable hearing damage in less than four minutes, because decibel increases are exponential, not linear. The way to think about this in practical terms is that every single point increase in the decibel scale halves your safe exposure time.

4. Motorcyclists protect everything – knee pads, leather trousers and jacket, boots, helmet...but often forget their ears. It’s easy to assume that the helmet protects your ears because it covers them, but this is not the case – it is designed to protect your head only. And the amount of damage you will do to unprotected ears does depend on the size of the engine, and the duration of your journey, but, if you want to prevent hearing loss, it’s advisable to add hearing protection to your repertoire of biking safety gear.

5. It would seem odd to suggest that working at a hair salon is in any way hazardous. Until you measure the decibel output of a hairdryer – they can easily reach 95dB on their highest setting. You can get hearing protection with a voice filter to block out the harmful sounds but enable conversation to ensure that you do not inadvertently damage your hearing as you care for your clients...or you can run the hairdryer on a lower setting! . hearing test blog photo

6. Barristas beware! The screeching milk frother easily gets up to 90dB, and since most of you take your craft very seriously, the danger of hearing loss is probably the last thing on your mind. I appreciate my morning coffee greatly, especially after the early commute to get to the clinic in time for my first appointment, but I don’t want you to have to damage your hearing in order to make it for me – especially when it is so easy nowadays to fit hearing protection...alternatively, just hold your head away slightly from the steam wand as you build that perfect froth...

7. DIY enthusiasts, please bear in mind that even a hand held drill can reach 95 decibels –more in a confined space. That’s the same as a large truck passing nearby, or a kitchen macerator. It would be tragic to damage your hearing as you improve your home, so I’d advise you to wear hearing plugs, even though it probably feels like overkill.

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