The Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) states that more than one in 10 people ages six to 19 have already experienced permanent hearing loss. Hearing loss in that age-range is usually caused by exposure to loud noise. There are a number of sources of noise, but there are also very easy and practical ways to prevent noise from causing temporary, or worse, permanent damage to your hearing.

What is noise?

To help protect our hearing from loud sounds, we have to understand what constitutes noise. Sound is defined as what we hear when vibrations travel through the air and reach our ears. Noise is defined as unwarranted sound. Noise can be dangerous to your hearing in different ways – either through overexposure to semi-loud sounds – or by short-term exposure to very loud, dangerous levels of noise. Noise can also impact you differently depending on the environment where you’re exposed to it. 

The two categories of noise

There are two major types of noise. One is occupational noise and the other is recreational exposure.

Occupational noise is the chief cause of hearing loss for most people. The following types of jobs are the most prone to occupational noise:

  • Agriculture – Causes include tractors, combines and even pig squeals.
  • Construction and Carpentry – The loud noises of tools contribute to hearing loss. The CDC reports that 44 percent of carpenters and 48 percent of plumbers complain of being hard of hearing.
  • Mining – The CDC estimates that 50 percent of miners will have hearing loss by the age of 50 and 70 percent will experience hearing loss by the age of 60.
  • Military – The American military reports large numbers of returning veterans suffering from noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus. The main causes are close-combat fighting, bombs and artillery fire.

The other type of noise is from recreational activities. While these activities may seem fun at the time, it’s important to wear the proper ear protection to ensure you’re not exposing yourself to dangerous sound levels.

  • Snowmobiling
  • Target shooting
  • Hunting
  • Attending concerts
  • Listening to loud music
  • Motorcycling riding

When to seek treatment

You should seek treatment immediately if you are experiencing any of these symptoms:

  • Having trouble hearing others or if they sound like they are mumbling
  • Persistent pain in your ears
  • Being told that you are constantly talking loudly or shouting
  • Tinnitus – A ringing, whooshing, roaring or buzzing noise in your ears

Protecting your ears

Because noise can cause so much distress to your hearing, it’s essential to protect your ears. There are numerous tips and tricks to protect your ears from noise, including:

  • Earplugs – Blocking the ear canal with earplugs provide great protection by lowering noise decibels. They can be purchased at many locations, including drug, hardware and sports stores. Hearing professionals can also design custom earplugs for more comfortable hearing protection.
  • Earmuffs – These devices fit completely over the ears and are often used in addition to earplugs in very noisy environments.

We live in an incredibly loud society and word today. Your hearing is important to your overall health, so make sure to keep it in the best shape possible by utilizing ear protection!