How to prevent noise-related hearing loss

Learn how to protect your hearing from noise-related injury.

woman putting an earplug in her ear so she can protect her hearing

The key to protecting your hearing from noise-related injury lies in knowing the causes of hearing loss and limiting your exposure.

Over a lifetime, most people will experience some degree of hearing loss, but there are several steps you can take to ensure your hearing stays at its best for as long as possible.

The causes of hearing loss

Hearing loss can be attributed to four main factors:

  • excessive noise caused by loud music or garden machinery
  • certain medicines, such as quinine, chloroquine and salicylates
  • some diseases, such as mumps, whooping cough and syphilis
  • physical injury, such as heavy falls, cleaning the ears wrongly and swimming in dirty water.

Noise-related hearing loss

Excessive noise accounts for the most common reason from which people suffer hearing loss. Unlike damage to your hearing that is caused by certain medicines and physical injury, noise-induced hearing loss is irreversible once it occurs.

Noise-induced hearing loss happens when the delicate hair cells in the inner ear are exposed to very loud sounds. Hearing a ringing in your ears (tinnitus) is a good indicator that damage to your hearing has occurred. 

Generally, sounds of less than 75 decibels (db), even after long exposure, do not cause hearing loss. However, sounds that exceed 85db are considered harmful.

Here are some average decibel readings of common sounds:

  • a refrigerator humming – 45db
  • a typical conversation – 60db
  • noise from a blender – 80db
  • a rock concert – 100db

You can protect your hearing from excessive noise by:

  • reducing your exposure to excessive noise by wearing earplugs in loud environments, including at concerts and on worksites
  • setting the volume on TVs, radios, stereos and devices at less than 60 per cent of the maximum volume
  • wearing noise-cancelling headphones, which reduce ambient noise and mean you can lower the volume of your music without having to worry about external noise
  • getting regular hearing check-ups through an audiologist.



    To make a comment, please register or login

    22nd Feb 2016
    23rd Feb 2016
    If you'd like to hear your grandchildren's voices later in life, protect your hearing now. Its sad to miss out in a silent world.
    27th Feb 2016
    I wear Howard Leight Extreme ear plugs. I trim them to the right length to suit my ears and I roll them in my fingers first so they will expand into the ear canal and make a good seal. I use 3% peroxide solution with a little water for cleaning my fingers and the outside of the ear canal.

    I don't do this to protect my hearing, I do it to protect my ability to think clearly. Since the onset of nerve pain syndrome 10 years ago my ears have been super sensitive, so I wear these every day.

    What a noisy world we have come to live in since the days of my youth and what makes it worse is the sheer lack of good manners. Every day you see examples of people pushing their personal music noise and other recreational noise and machinery noise, into the faces of others. I once bought a car stereo and was embarrassed at the thought that outsiders might hear my private music, then I saw others driving down the street forcing their loud music on everybody else and pretending they were just going for a drive. I think this was called the ME generation. How they deluded themselves about their importance.

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