• Jennifer Birtles

How Loud is Too Loud?

Updated: Jan 21

All sound can be measured in decibels (dB), a measure used to evaluate whether a sound is safe to listen to, and for how long. Any noise measured 85dB and above can be harmful, especially if you’re exposed to it for a prolonged period of time. Safe listening is considered to be listening to sounds of up to 85dB for up to 8 hours a day.

Most cases of noise-induced hearing loss are a result of accumulated damage from repeated exposure to loud noises. Find out when you are putting your hearing at risk below.

Noise exposure infographic

Enjoy entertainment safely

Part of our mission at eargym is helping you continue to hear the sounds you love to hear, whether that’s a football stadium erupting into cheers, or being able to listen to your favourite musicians live. However, the volume of these events does pose a risk to your hearing and it is wise to take necessary precautions. In particular, ear plugs are great for this - meaning that you don’t have to miss out completely and can still enjoy live events. Find out more about the types of ear protection below.

Other tips to enjoy live entertainment as safely as possible are:

  • Stay away from sources of loud noise, such as speakers, during large events.

  • Take breaks from the noise regularly.

  • Give your ears time to recover after being exposed to noise for a longer period of time. Ideally, up to 24 hours.

Always remember that a noise could be doing damage to your hearing if:

  • You have to raise your voice to talk to the people around you.

  • You struggle to hear what people nearby are saying.

  • It hurts your ears, or you have ringing in your ears afterwards.

Protecting your hearing at work

Man working in studio

If you work in a job where you are exposed to loud noises, or are worried about your level of exposure, then you need to take extra precautions to protect your hearing. Your employer will be responsible to reduce and eliminate noise exposure wherever possible under Health & Safety work regulation guidelines. However, you should always use hearing protection to reduce the impact and stay safe.

There are 3 main types of hearing protection available and which one will suit you will depend on the environment you work in and the levels of noise you are exposed to.

  • Ear plugs - these are pre-molded or moldable foam plugs that are inserted into the ear canal. You can get these ear plugs with specific filters for use in various situations, such as at work, at live events, or for sleeping. HearingLink has a range of ear plugs designed for noise reduction available online here.

  • Custom ear plugs - these attenuate sounds across all frequencies rather than just the lower and mid-levels. Particularly useful for musicians, this type of protection is designed to convey clean and natural sounds across all frequencies.

  • Ear muffs - these are made with a sound attenuating material and ear cushions that fit around your ears and decrease the sound level that is transmitted through the ear canal.

Sound monitoring and metering apps are a really helpful resource to help you understand in which situations and how frequently you are exposed to loud sounds. We recommend checking out both the apps below:

  • Decibel X - available on both the App and Google Play Store.

Decibel X turns your smartphone into an easily accessible sound level meter. You can measure anything between 30dbA to 130dbA (the equivalent of rustling leaves to amplified rock & roll), as well as record and save your own listening levels, and compare with a useful reference chart.

  • NIOSH Sound Level Meter - available on both the App and Google Play Store.

This sound level meter is a handy tool for anyone who wants to measure sound levels in the workplace and develop noise exposure parameters to help reduce occupational noise-induced hearing loss.

Whilst these apps are really useful tools at increasing your understanding of what constitutes loud noises and when you are at risk, however, they are not meant to replace professional healthcare or advice. If you have concerns about your hearing, do make an appointment with an audiologist.

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