We hear sound when delicate hair cells in our inner ear vibrate, creating nerve signals that the brain understands as sound. But just as we can overload an electrical circuit, we also can overload these vibrating hair cells. Loud noise damages these delicate hair cells, resulting in sensorineural hearing loss and often (tinnitus and ringing of the ears). The cells that are the first to be damaged or die are those that vibrate most quickly–those that allow us to hear higher-frequency sounds clearly, like the sounds of birds singing and children speaking.
Loudness is measured in decibels, with silence measuring at 0 dB. Any noise above 85 dB is considered unsafe. Most firecrackers produce sounds starting at 125 dB, presenting the risk of irreversible ear damage. Repeated exposure to loud noise, over an extended period of time, presents serious risks to hearing health as well. If you have to shout over the noise to be heard by someone within arm’s length, the noise is probably in the dangerous range.
Here are other warning signs:
- You have pain in your ears after leaving a noisy area.
- You hear ringing or buzzing TINNITUS) in your ears immediately after exposure to noise.
- You suddenly have difficulty understanding speech after exposure to noise; you can hear people talking but cannot understand them.
To find information and resources on hearing health, call us at Sandia Hearing Center in Colorado Springs 719-634-6260. We’ll keep you hearing into your golden years!