Turn Down the Volume!

Sometimes we can help how loud the things we are listening to are and other times they’re AHG_Senior-500pxbeyond our control. But as we age, we want to minimize sounds and loud volumes in order to protect our hearing. As we age, some hearing loss is common, but turning down the volume can help to protect our ears and the future of our hearing health. One question our audiologists often get is, how loud is too loud? How do we know what volume is safe and when we need to turn something down? What levels of sound can actually do damage to our hearing? We also see our aging clients who have been compensating for hearing loss by turning the volume up when they can’t hear their television. Instead of helping, they are actually hurting their ears and causing more damage. Nonetheless, those are good questions and we hope that this blog can help explain.

Hearing loss in senior citizens isn’t just an age issue. It is a health issue that people of all ages need to be aware of. Starting from youth through adulthood, your hearing health depends on your hearing habits.  There are acceptable standards of volume and recommended exposure time for certain levels. Volume is measured in decibels and we should all be paying more attention to the volume and length of exposure. According to the NIOSH and the CDC, for every 3 dBAs over 85dBA, the permissible exposure time before possible damage can occur is cut in half. Sounds that are louder than 85 dB can cause permanent hearing loss. As a reference, a whisper comes in at 35 dB and is safe for 30 years. Listening to a voice typically is at 65dB and is safe for 85 days of exposure. A loud TV? 90 dB and is only safe for 2 hours. A concert usually levels at 110 dB and is only safe for 15 minutes while ambulance sirens are 140 dB and is safe for exposure of only <0.25 seconds.  

Loud noise can be very damaging to hearing. Again, both level of noise and the length of time you listen to the noise can put you at risk for noise-induced hearing loss. The hearing system can be injured not only by a loud blast or explosion but also by prolonged exposure to high noise levels. The senior citizen population often is more sensitive to loud noise. It actually sounds louder to this age group. As most people age, they may develop a common hearing loss condition, called presbycusis, in which hearing gradually deteriorates and certain sounds become distorted. The elderly’s perception of high frequencies diminishes, and low frequencies are magnified. Furthermore, this type of noise-induced hearing loss can damage the sensory hair cells in your ear that allow you to hear. Once these hair cells are damaged, they do not grow back and your ability to hear is diminished. 

Don’t damage your hearing any further. Turn down that volume to well below 85 dB or limit your exposure to loud noises. If you suspect that you are already suffering from hearing loss or notice that you’re compensating for your inability to hear by turning the volume way up, you could be doing more damage. Our audiologists can work with you, even as you’re aging, to improve your hearing with the use of hearing aids, aural rehabilitation, or other hearing devices. From hearing tests to hearing loss diagnosis, we will work with your individual goals and lifestyle to find the best course of treatment. Hearing loss in the elderly is common, but we’re here for you no matter the cause. Start your journey to better hearing today!


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