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When it Comes to Noise, How Loud is too Loud?

how loud is too loud?

I had a patient ask me the other day if I had seen what the Seahawks were planning to do during their home opener against the San Francisco 49rs.  I told him I had not.  He proceeded to tell me that they were going to attempt to break the record for the loudest stadium.  I know that crowds can get pretty loud, but wasn’t quite sure exactly how loud so I looked it up.

Turns out the current world record for the loudest stadium recorded a decibel level of 131.76.  WOW!!!  When I read this, it was like a dentist hearing that someone is going to try and break the world record for the most candy eaten.   Just how loud is 131.76 decibels?  Well, noise at 80-85 decibels for long periods of time can cause hearing damage.   So obviously a decibel level upwards of 131 makes me cringe.

Hearing this news of the Seahawks trying to break the world record got me thinking about other noises that people are around every day that could possibly cause hearing damage and just how loud is too loud.

Here are some common every day activities and places that produce noise:

  • Lawnmower:  90 decibels
  • Food processor:  95 decibels
  • Jackhammer:  110 decibels
  • Emergency vehicle siren:  115 decibels
  • Jet engine take off:  140 decibels
  • Safety airbag:  170 decibels

Now that we know how loud is too loud when it comes to noises, here are a few tips (especially for the fans who will be at the Seahawk game on September 15) to protect your hearing for every day noises.

  • Wear hearing protection. These include earmuffs, over-the-counter earplugs, or custom made ear plugs from an audiologist.
  • Avoidance. Avoid being in environments with loud noise if you do not have hearing protection.
  • Limit ear phone volume. When listening to personal audio devices, don’t listen to them with the volume more than half way up. Custom made ear molds for the audio players allow you to hear the music better at a lower volume level. Move away from the sound system if the volume level is too loud.
  • Look for products that advertise a lower noise level. These can be found on appliances and tools, as well as toys for children.

As an audiologist my job and passion is to educate people on hearing loss, help prevent hearing loss, and help people hear better if hearing loss has occurred.  Hearing loss due to loud noises can happen to anyone at any age so remember to take care of your ears.  They are the only two you have.

If you have any questions about noise levels and exactly how loud is too loud, please let me know.