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WHAT IS NOISE-INDUCED HEARING LOSS?

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is a permanent hearing impairment resulting from prolonged exposure to high levels of noise.

Noise is all around us in our everyday lives and is a common cause of hearing loss. Hearing loss typically occurs slowly, over a long period of time, and is painless. Sounds become harmful when they are too loud, even for a brief time, or when they are both loud and long-lasting. Over time, exposure to harmful sounds can damage sensitive structures in the inner ear which causes hearing loss.

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is an important public health concern and common issue (over 36 million Americans have hearing loss!), especially amongst musicians. NIHL is preventable if proper hearing protection is practiced – wear earplugs and limit the length of exposure to loud levels of noise (over 80 decibels).

FACTORS THAT AFFECT HEARING LOSS & HOW TO PREVENT THEM

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INTENSITY: (AVERAGE LEVELS)

Turn down the volume!

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DISTANCE: (BETWEEN YOU & THE SOUND SOURCE)

Don’t stand in front of the speakers. Put some distance between yourself and the sound source.

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WEAR PROTECTIVE EARPLUGS WHEN YOU CAN’T CONTROL THE VOLUME!

Besides turning down the volume and taking breaks, protective earplugs are one of the only protections against hearing loss brought on by loud noise.

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DURATION: (EXPOSURE LENGTH)

Take a break in a quiet space, especially when sounds are over 85 dB!

HOW SAFE IS YOUR SOUND?

0-80 dBA for 0-12 hours (normal conversation, whisper, dishwasher, vacuum cleaner, rain drops, acoustic guitar); 80-100 dBA for 0-8 hours (city traffic, chain saw, football games, hair dryer, lawn mower); 100+ dBA for 0-15 minutes (brass band, ipod, drumline rehearsal, leaf blower, rock concert, jet taking off)

This chart represents levels of noise measured in decibels (dBA) -an expression of the relative loudness of sounds in air as perceived by the human ear. Sounds (measured in dBA) are coded green (lower) – yellow (medium to loud) – red (loud) and the permissible or safe exposure times are noted before hearing damage begins to occur.

As a general rule, noise may damage your hearing if:

  • You have to shout over background noise to make yourself heard
  • The noise makes your ears ring
  • You have decreased or “muffled” hearing several hours after exposure
  • The noise is painful to your ears

When you’re out and about remember to ask yourself – How Safe is Your Sound?

DAMAGING DECIBELS

Sounds above 90 decibels (Decibel-dB or dBA- a measurement of the loudness or strength of sound vibration) may cause vibrations intense enough to damage the delicate sensory cells of the inner ear, especially if the sound continues for a long time. These sensory cells in the inner ear typically do not recover once damaged; once they are gone, they are never replaced.

For instance, daily activities such as speech take place in the 60-80 dB range (the GREEN zone) and are safe without hearing loss for up to 12 hours. Alternatively, a jackhammer produces a sustained noise level of 120 dB, the noise from a large truck can peak at around 90 dB, and the average noise level inside the cabin of an airplane can be between 90-100 dB over the duration of your flight.

If you turn up your iPod or car radio to drown out the racket around you, you are actually blasting your ears with a dangerous level of sound. This combination of noise can cause hearing damage in a very short period of time. For further information, visit the Dangerous Decibels website.

OTHER SOUND EXPOSURE FACTS

  • The dynamic range of music, whether performed by a symphony orchestra, brass band, or at a rock concert, can peak at 95 dBA or above.
  • 100 dBA of sustained sound can cause hearing damage after just 5 minutes! The roar of a cheering Saints crowd enclosed in the Superdome can peak at 100 dBA or higher. Sounds pouring out of some blocks of Bourbon St. can also peak at 100 dBA or higher.

DO YOU NEED A HEARING TEST?

CLICK HERE to take this interactive quiz provided by the NIH to see if you need a hearing test. If so, get in touch with the NOMC or your primary care provider to make an appointment.

SOUND RESOURCES

SAFE SOUNDS

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

THE SAFE SOUNDS PROGRAM IS A MODEL PROGRAM IN HEARING LOSS PREVENTION

The New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic & Assistance Foundation’s Safe Sounds wellness program provides resources and preventive health education aimed at protecting New Orleans’ hearing by working to reduce the number of noise induced hearing disorders.

NOMC Safe Sounds Logo

Safe Sounds advocates for healthy sound environments with the goal of making New Orleans the nations’ number one acoustic friendly city. Through research, outreach, and preventive health education we strive to create a healthy local music environment for musicians and music lovers alike.

Like the NOMC & AF Safe Sounds Facebook page for updates on programming, hearing health and Safe Sounds events!

PROGRAM GOALS

  • Share research and information on noise and music-induced hearing loss, as well as guidelines for safe sound exposure.
  • Encourage self-efficacy in those in New Orleans’ music environments (i.e., musicians, sound engineers, club owners, music enthusiasts, etc.) by providing strategies for scientifically-approved hearing loss prevention and protection methods.
  • Create a voluntary compliance system or pledge whereby clubs which “Practice Safe Sounds” are recognized and supported for their efforts to reduce noise related hearing disorders in musicians and cultural workers. Furthermore, consumers can be informed as to which clubs subscribe to these practices.
  • Effectively advocate practicing ‘Safe Sounds’ in order to engage behavioral change and maximize the listening experience in musicians’ rehearsal and performance environments
Ya Heard! Protect Your Ears! Turn It Down! Walk Away!
1 in 6 adults in the US experience noise-induced hearing loss
#safesounds #yaheard

THE EFFECTS OF LOUD NOISE ON MUSICIANS

NOMC Safe Sounds Logo
Depression, anxiety, inability to focus, muscle tension, disrupted sleep patterns, shrinking brain tissue, panic disorders, tinnitus, inability to hear soft sounds, intolerance to loud sound, permanent hearing loss, pitch discrimination problems, abnormal heart rhythm, restricted blood flow. Patients with diabetes are more likely to suffer hearing loss as high blood glucose obstructs blood flow to cochlea. Diabetes can lead to an inability to flush toxins from inner ears.

DID YOU KNOW?

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Chronic conditions can exacerbate hearing loss.

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Moderate noise levels (approx. between 40 – 60 decibels) gets the creative juices flowing.

No smoking sign

Smoking constricts blood vessels and smokers are more susceptible to hearing damage.

APPS

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Decibel Ultra measures volume and helps you determine the noise level around you.

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Decibel 10th Logo

Decibel 10th turns your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch into a professional sound meter, precisely measures the sound pressure level all around you.

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RECOMMENDED VIDEOS

EDUCATIONAL VIDEOS ON THE TOPICS OF HEARING HEALTH:

AUDITORY TRANSDUCTION
FITTING FOAM EARPLUGS
TINNITUS: RINGING IN THE BRAIN

MUSIC STUDENT RESOURCES

NEW ORLEANS SPEECH & HEARING CENTER (NOSHC)

New Orleans Speech Hearing Center Logo

HEARING HEALTHCARE PROVIDER AND COMMUNITY PARTNER OF THE NOMC

New Orleans Speech and Hearing Center (NOSHC) was founded in 1930. Each year brings growth and expansion as they continue to be the forerunner of speech and hearing centers in the New Orleans area. Their audiology services include comprehensive hearing testing and rehabilitation, including hearing aids for both children and adults. They also offer Auditory Attention Screenings, Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Testing, non-sedated Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) testing, and custom musician earplugs. Their speech-language pathology department administers formal and informal testing to address the following: articulation disorder, fluency disorder, voice disorder, expressive and/or receptive language disorder, social pragmatic disorder, language processing disorder, auditory processing deficits, phonological awareness deficits, and reading/spelling deficits.

Many musicians, culture workers, and music lovers can benefit from Musician’s Earplugs. With Musician’s Plugs from the New Orleans Speech and Hearing Center, sound quality is clearer and more natural than when using foam plugs. In addition, they are shown to reduce fatigue associated with noise exposure. For more information on Musicians’ Plugs contact the Musicians’ Clinic: at 504-412-1366.