By Kevin Gong
Sounds are everywhere, and the volume of a sound is described in decibels (dB). Sounds less than around 70 dB are safe and won’t typically affect your hearing. As sounds get louder and/or the amount of time you listen to loud sounds gets longer, damage to your hearing becomes more and more likely.
What many people may not realize is that the maximum volume of personal listening devices is well above 70 dB, and when you’re using earbuds or headphones to listen to your music the sound is going directly into your ear. Listening to your music too loudly, as well as loudly for extended periods of time, can indeed cause damage to your hearing over time.
Hearing protection devices come with different noise reduction ratings. The noise reduction rating is usually labeled on the device container and it indicates the amount of potential protection the device provides. Noise reduction ratings are measured in decibels (dB). Most hearing protection devices have ratings that range from 0 dB to 35 dB.
The real sound reduction offered by the protector may be substantially less than the noise reduction rating, which is a “best case” number determined in a lab. The ideal hearing protection is one that you can use consistently while exposed to noise, is comfortable, and is handy. A hearing specialist may “fit-test” the device if you want to know exactly how much noise reduction you are receiving.
Last but not least, avoiding noisy activities is the greatest method to safeguard your hearing from noise. Use hearing protection if you can’t avoid loud sounds. Devices for hearing protection lessen the volume of sound that reaches your ears. They do not entirely muffle sound. A hearing aid that doesn’t fit correctly won’t operate.