Harmful Effects of Loud Noises – What You Can Do to Prevent Them?

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Loud noises are known to cause feelings of irritability and fatigue. Noises can limit the person's ability to pay attention when performing various tasks. This is a vital concern in the workplace when other worker's safety is on the line. The person's ability to detect any faulty equipment during operation or a warning signal is severely hindered. Noise can also reduce the productivity levels of workers.

Another common problem attributed to loud noises is that of tinnitus. Tinnitus is defined as a buzzing, ringing or otherwise bothersome sound in the ear. Sometimes, physical problems can occur, including:

• Elevated levels of blood pressure

• Abnormal or quickened heart rate

• Nausea

• Trouble falling asleep, even after the nose has stopped

What Can I Do to Protect My Hearing?

Essentially, the most important thing you can do is to educate yourself on preventative measures. It is a personal responsibility as to how you are going to deal with noise and all of the side effects. The first thing that sticks out for most people is to avoid the loud noise at all costs. If you need to shout in order for others to hear you, it is probably best to avoid the situation entirely.

On an average day, you can be exposed to harmful noises from a variety of sources, including:

• Hair dryers

• Leaf blowers or lawn mowers

• Kitchen appliances, such as a garbage disposal, dishwasher and blender

• Power tools

• Excessive amounts of noise exposure in the subway or heavy traffic

• Noise from a farm tractor

• Extended flights on an airplane

Beyond just normal everyday life, many recreational activities are an excellent source of harmful noises, such as:

• Riding on a personal watercraft

• Target shooting or hunting

• Snowmobiling

• Riding a motorcycle

• Attending a rock concert

• Listening to your music on one of the personal music players, such as an MP3 player

Some of the things you can do to help along the way include:

Wearing Hearing Protection

Stuffing cotton inside of your ears is not going to do the trick. You can purchase earplugs or earmuffs at most local drugstores, sports stores or hardware stores. An audiologist can help make a pair of custom ear molds for your ears. Learning how to install the device properly will help aid in noise reduction.

Earplugs are inserted into of the ear canal to block off any sound from coming in completely. There are numerous shapes and sizes, or a customized pair can be made from an ear impression. They help to reduce sound levels by anywhere from 15 to 30 decibels, which depends upon how well they fit.

Earmuffs fit entirely over your ears. They need to fit snugly to help block sound from entering into the ears. Just like earplugs, they are able to reduce sounds by 15 to 30 decibels based upon how they fit. You can use earplugs and earmuffs together to help achieve maximum sound reduction. When you are in an environment with extremely loud noises, it is recommended to use both as a safety precaution.

Avoid Listening to Loud Sounds for a Long Time

If you do not currently have an issue with your hearing, you need to move as far away from the sound as you can. Give your ears a well-deserved break from the sound. When an emergency vehicle passes by on the road, plug your ear with your fingers.

Lower the Overall Volume of the Sound

If you are listening to a personal device, you want to ensure you never crank the volume more than halfway up. Don't be scared to ask someone else to turn the volume down. Speak with the projectionist at the movie theater if the sound is too loud.

Kenneth  Parker Photo Kenneth C. Parker, grew up in Summerville, Georgia and attended the University of Georgia. He graduated from the Audiology program at Georgia in 1974 and moved to the Chattanooga area shortly thereafter. Ken has been married to his wife Martha for 40 years. They have 2 grown children and 2 grandchildren. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling and reading, and is involved with Church activities.

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