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Protect your hearing

Hearing loss doesn't have to be an unavoidable part of aging. You can protect yourself from some of the common causes of hearing loss. Here's how:

Watch your decibels!

Short-term exposure to loud noises, such as explosions, fireworks, or jet engines can cause hearing loss. But so can longer-term exposure to noises that aren't so loud. Even listening to your music player too loud or too long can damage your hearing.

The loudness of a sound is measured in decibels (dB). Sounds that are louder than 85 dB can cause hearing loss. The higher the decibels, the shorter the amount of time you can be exposed to the sound before hearing loss occurs. For example, 8 hours at 85 dB causes as much damage as 4 hours at 88 dB, 2 hours at 91 dB, or just 15 minutes at 100 dB. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety recommends ear protection for people exposed to sounds of 85 dB or higher. Otherwise, you risk permanent hearing loss.

Some of your daily activities may be noisier than you think! Here are the decibel ratings of some common sounds:

  • firecracker: 150 dB
  • ambulance siren or airplane taking off: 120 dB
  • nightclub or rock concert: 105 to 110 dB
  • movie theatre: 80 to 100 dB
  • listening to music with headphones: 105-120 dB if the volume is cranked up to the maximum setting
  • motorcycle: 95 dB
  • noisy restaurant or heavy traffic in the city: 85 dB
  • normal conversation: 60 dB
  • fridge humming: 40 dB
  • whispering: 30 dB

Here's how to protect yourself from noise-related hearing loss:

  • Wear ear protection (ear plugs or ear muffs) if you'll be exposed to sounds over 85 dB. Generally, a sound is too loud if you can't hear a person talking 1 metre (3 feet) away.
  • If your workplace is noisy, wear the recommended ear protection all the time! If you have questions about ear protection on the job, contact the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.
  • Follow the 60-60 rule when listening to music through headphones or earbuds: listen at 60% of the maximum volume for up to 60 minutes per day. Any more than this can lead to permanent hearing loss. And be careful you don't turn up the sound too high when you're in noisy surroundings, such as public transit.

Check it out!

Some medical conditions, such as ear infections, can lead to hearing loss if not treated. And other causes of hearing loss, such as earwax and damaged eardrums, can be treated to improve hearing. Have regular medical check-ups to find health conditions and nip them in the bud. The Canadian Hearing Society recommends a hearing test even if you don’t have any issues and an annual test if you have concerns about your hearing.

Watch out for the "what"?

Keep an ear out for the early signs of hearing loss. Read "Could you be losing your hearing?" to learn what to listen for. If you notice these signs, talk to your doctor or audiologist about having a hearing test. Getting help early can stop some types of hearing loss from getting worse and help you cope with others.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2024. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source:

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