Seasonal safety: Summer Worker Health and Wellness Home and Community Safety & Health Wellness

The sounds of summer can lead to ‘hidden’ hearing loss, expert warns

car racing
Photo: Onfokus/iStockphoto

Muncie, IN — Concerts, fireworks, auto races, road construction and mowing the lawn are all summertime happenings that can cause permanent hearing damage, cautions Ball State University audiologist Lynn Bielski.

“Our hearing is one of the senses that we, as humans, oftentimes take for granted,” Bielski, an associate professor of audiology at BSU, said in a May 24 press release. “Excessively loud noise, music or other sound exposure will damage our hearing, and we need to take responsibility to protect it.”

Sounds louder than 80 decibels can cause hearing damage. Fireworks, concerts, lawn equipment and traffic range between 90 and 140 dB. After being exposed to loud sounds, people can experience:

  • Immediate pain or ringing in the ears.
  • Difficulty understanding someone talking a few feet away.
  • Speech from people nearby sounding muffled.

Although these conditions may go away after a few hours, recent research shows that irreversible damage to the auditory system has already taken place, according to the release. This “hidden hearing loss” isn’t immediately apparent – but it is preventable.

“We live in a noisy world,” Bielski said in the release. “Similar to wearing a helmet when riding a bike, or a seat belt in a vehicle, hearing protection is critical safety equipment.”

You can limit your noise exposure by reducing the volume, getting away from the source of the noise, and wearing hearing protection such as foam or rubber earplugs and earmuffs.

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