While summers in Arizona can get quite toasty, it’s still a great time for many to spend outside soaking up the sun, whether hanging out at the park with the family or playing a round at Silverbell Golf Course.
However, some outdoor activities have the potential to reach loud volumes that can harm your hearing. Let’s look at how to enjoy time outside while keeping your ears safe from noise-induced hearing loss.
The Basics of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
You’re probably aware that exposure to very loud noises, such as an explosion or a gunshot, can damage your hearing. However, sounds don’t have to be that loud to increase your risk of hearing loss over time. In fact, prolonged exposure to any sound above 85 decibels (dB) can lead to noise-induced hearing loss.
Noise-induced hearing loss is unfortunately common and can affect people of any age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that “An estimated 12.5% of children and adolescents aged 6–19 years (approximately 5.2 million) and 17% of adults aged 20–69 years (approximately 26 million) have suffered permanent damage to their hearing from excessive exposure to noise.”
Four Outdoor Activities That Increase Hearing Loss Risk
Many popular outdoor activities can reach volumes higher than 85 dB, including:
- Hunting or shooting. Small rifles can produce sounds up to 140 dB, while larger caliber rifles can produce sounds higher than 175 dB! In fact, there’s even a condition known as “hunter’s ear” that describes a type of asymmetrical hearing loss that affects the ear closest to the sound of gunfire.
- Attending outdoor music events. Though outdoor concerts may be better for your ears than those in small, indoor venues, they can still reach volumes higher than 100 dB, especially if you’re close to the stage.
- Riding 4-wheelers. 4-wheelers are a great way to explore the outdoors. However, they can reach volume levels up to 130 dB. The same can be said for motorcycles and jet skis as well.
- Fishing. While this one may seem like a surprise, if you do your fishing on a boat, it can reach levels between 80-100 dB when cruising to your favorite spot.
Use Hearing Protection Outside
You don’t need to avoid these activities to reduce your risk of hearing loss. Just make sure to use proper hearing protection like earplugs or earmuffs and take frequent breaks from the loud noise to give your ears time to recover. You can purchase these products at the store or visit an audiologist for custom hearing protection.
If you notice any issues, like muffled hearing or tinnitus (ringing in the ears), schedule an appointment for a hearing test. The sooner hearing loss can be diagnosed and treated with hearing aids, the more likely it is that you can prevent further hearing damage.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Arizona Hearing Specialists today.