Noise Induced Hearing Loss

How loud is too loud?  We are exposed to sounds all day long and most of them are within safe levels.  But if you work in an industry that exposes you to loud noises, you should be careful to protect your hearing.    Some common conditions that are prone to loud noises include live music concerts, construction sites, motorcycle racing, vehicles with sirens and the use of some lawn equipment.  Listening to very loud music through earbuds or headphones is another very common way to damage one’s hearing. Children who play in school bands can be exposed to high decibel sounds, depending on which instruments they sit near or play.

Sounds at or below 70 A-weighted decibels (dBA), even after long exposure, are unlikely to cause hearing loss. However, long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 dBA can cause hearing loss. The louder the sound, the shorter the amount of time it takes for hearing loss to happen.  Noise-induced hearing loss is usually gradual, as it damages the tiny hairs in your ear that help you hear.  Once those fibers are significantly damaged, they do not recover and the hearing loss process has begun.  You cannot recover that hearing capability.

Below is a noise meter from NIH that provides a helpful sample of noises at the relevant decibel levels. Click on the photo for a comparison of sound levels.

Noise Meter

Preventing Noise Induced Hearing Loss


To protect your hearing, you will want to limit your exposure to these moderately high noise levels and give your ears a chance to recover after any period of noise exposure. Ear plugs can protect your hearing if you find yourself occasionally exposed to loud noises.  If you are continually exposed to high decibel sounds, the audiologists at  CNC Hearing and Balance Center can fit custom ear plugs.

Whether you’ve got a front row seat at a music concert or plan to spend the day hunting, CNC Hearing and Balance Center can provide the hearing protection you need.