By Janelle Paul, M.S., CCC-SLP, Supervisor of Specialized Services, Catapult Learning

Earlier in the month, I wrote about caring for your teacher voice in Part I of my blog highlighting National Better Hearing & Speech Month. But it wouldn’t be Better Hearing and Speech Month without some tips about hearing health/safety! I’d like to share a little information about noise-induced hearing loss, which is completely preventable.

Noise-induced hearing loss occurs when extreme or excessive noise has caused permanent loss of hearing that was once intact. This can be caused by prolonged or frequent exposure over time or a single intense sound. According to the CDC in 2013, 26 million adults aged 20–69 and 5.2 million children/adolescents have suffered permanent hearing loss due to extreme noise exposure. Noise-induced hearing loss is permanent and often develops gradually, which may make it difficult for the individual to even realize his/her hearing is impaired.

How loud is too loud?

According to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA), loud sounds at 85dB or above can be damaging to your hearing. To give you a sense of what 85dB sounds like, the ASHA chart below depicts the noise level of everyday sounds.

ASHA also notes these signs that a noise is too loud:

  • You need to raise your voice in order to be heard by someone close-by.
  • The noise feels painful or hurts your ears.
  • Even if it lasts temporarily, you notice a buzzing or ringing sound.
  • After leaving the noisy environment, you notice that you cannot hear as well or sounds are muffled for several hours.
  • When listening to headphones, you cannot hear anything else around you.

Safe Listening

Here are some tips for practicing safe listening from ASHA:

  • Be aware of noise levels and which noises may cause damage to your hearing.
  • Avoid environments or settings where loud noises frequently occur (when possible).
  • Wear hearing protection in noisy environments (g., headphones, earplugs).
  • Avoid standing near speakers or the sources of loud sounds.
  • If you suspect possible hearing loss, check in with your doctor or have your hearing tested.
  • Turn the volume down when wearing headphones or earbuds – Can’t hear anything around you? Then your music is too loud!
  • Take noiseless breaks when listening to music, using loud equipment, or being in a loud environment for extended periods of time.
  • Look into volume-limiting software or volume limiting headphones.

I hope the information and suggestions provided in both this blog and my previous blog have been helpful!

Written by Janelle Paul, M.S., CCC-SLP, Supervisor of Specialized Services, Catapult Learning