Prevent damage

Once permanent hearing damage occurs, it can't be reversed.


What can you do?

Hearing loss is a gradual and normal part of the aging process. However, excessive noise is still the primary cause. Permanent hearing loss can occur almost instantly with unprotected exposure to certain sounds.

To protect yourself from noise:

  • If the sound level at work exceeds 85 dB, reduce the noise level or wear hearing protection.
  • Lower the volume of your television, stereo and iPod. Take special care if you use headphones or earbuds.
  • Be careful not to turn up your car stereo volume too loudly to compensate for noise from the engine or the wind.
  • Wear custom noise filters or solid earplugs if you go to rock concerts or nightclubs, and don't stand near loud speakers.
  • Wear noise-cancelling headphones or solid earplugs if you use noisy equipment such as drills, lawnmowers, etc.

To avoid damage from foreign objects:

  • Don't use cotton swabs to clean your ears. Doing so may push wax down onto your eardrum and can increase the production of wax and/or damage the eardrum.
  • Avoid washing with unclean water to prevent ear infections.

What are decibels?

Decibels (dB) measure the intensity of sound: from 0 dB, which is the faintest sound the human ear can detect, to the noise of a rocket during launch, which can exceed 180 dB.

Experts typically consider exposure to more than 85 dB to be dangerous, which means things like motorcycles, headphones and lawnmowers have potential to lead to permanent hearing loss.

Are you at risk?

If you're exposed to sounds above 85 dB, you may be putting your hearing at risk.

140 dB
Gunshot, Jet Engine at Takeoff Immediate danger to hearing
125 dB
Air Raid Siren, Firecracker Pain threshold
120 dB
Rock Concert, Sandblasting Risk of hearing damage in 7 minutes
115 dB
Baby's Cry, Jet Ski Risk of hearing damage in 15 minutes
110 dB
Snowmobile in Driver's Seat Risk of hearing damage in 30 minutes
105 dB
Jackhammer, Helicopter Risk of hearing damage in 1 hour
100 dB
Chain Saw, Stereo Headphones Risk of hearing damage in 2 hours
95 dB
Motorcycle, Power Saw Risk of hearing damage in 4 hours
90 dB
Lawnmower, Truck Traffic Risk of hearing damage in 8 hours
85 dB
Beginning of OSHA Regulations
70 dB
Busy traffic, Vacuum Cleaner
60 dB
Conversation, Dishwasher
40 dB
Quiet Room