Hearing damage is inevitable without hearing protection.

“I think my hearing has a bigger hangover than I do.”

Awereness about hearing damage is getting better. The world is getting louder and our hearing is rather fragile. We know that, but when is noise harmful? Probably quicker than you realise. A noisy restaurant might already be enough to irreversibly damage your hearing. You’ll read all about hearing damage and how to prevent it in this article.

Most common hearing damage

There are different ways to destroy your hearing. The four most common hearing problems are: noise-induced hearing loss (noise deaf), tinnitus, hyperacusis (hypersensitivity) and age-related hearing loss.

What is hearing damage?

You’ve probably heard of the micro hairs in your ears. We use these to detect vibrations (noise). Blow over your arm hairs. Do you see them moving? The same thing happens to your ears, there’s also an auditory nerve. This translates the vibrations into a signal that your brain understands as sound.

These hairs can get overloaded. They lie down flat and so the ‘signal’ that the hairs pass on to the nerve becomes cloudy. There is (temporarily) a beep or noise. Do you recognize that beep? Welcome to club tinnitus. Far too many people suffer from this, about a third of all adults. If you continue to overload the vibrating hairs, they’ll break down and the beep will become a constant. This may get worse until almost no sounds are perceived anymore. That’s when you become hearing impaired.

When is sound harmful to your hearing?

Noise starts to become harmful from 80 decibels (a vacuum cleaner, or noisy restaurant). That’s a bit simplistic. The extent to which noise is harmful depends on a number of factors. The frequency, duration and intensity of the sound play an important role. High tones are more harmful than low tones. Eighty decibels is enough to permanently destroy your hearing, but you have to listen to it for more than eight hours. Pay attention, because at 80 decibels isn’t all that much. Your hearing will be damaged within five minutes at a hundred decibels.

Volume

Surroundings

Safe time duration

80 dB

Noisy restaurant / city noise

8 hours

85 dB

Busy city traffic / Shouting

4 hours

90 dB

Busy pub

30 minutes

95 dB

Nightclub

15 minutes

100 dB

Festival / concert

5 minutes

Obviously, you have to be very careful at festivals. You should take a rest every 5 minuts if you’re not wearing hearing protection. Imagine what a weekend of bass will do to your hearing.

Preventing hearing damage

Protection is therefore necessary, it should actually be self-evident. Never go to a festival without hearing protection. If you are unsure whether it is too noisy in everyday life, you can easily check it. In the appstore you’ll find different soundmeter apps.

Does your environment exceed 80 dB? Then take a a break away from the noise. At a festival you’re not always able to do this. Thone M1 – Music One – Music One reduces ambient noise by up to 23 decibels without distorting the sound. So you can still enjoy the festival all day (eight hours).

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