[Harp-L] Subject: TINNITUS - Ringing in the ears - hearing loss
My own experience with ear pain/hearing difficulty stemmed from flying.
Scoffing flight attendants with their assurances that my "little ear pain" would
go away with their home remedies frustrated me to no end since I'd already
tried them all. The last time I flew I blew out one eardrum and the other was
on the verge of rupturing. The pain level was excruciating and I did not
have a cold/virus/allergies (the common assumption). It's just the way it
works for some of us - related to the cabin pressurization. I lucked into the
office of the one otolaryngologist in Florida who knew exactly how to help me,
installing titanium tubes through my eardrums right then and there (in New
York they consider it an in-hospital surgical procedure). Two days of nausea,
vertigo and partial deafness and I was 100% back to normal and able to fly
home pain free with my hearing intact. I'm very, VERY lucky. But my Dad had
tinnitus and severe hearing loss and so I'm perhaps a bit more concerned than
most. There are a lot of vitamin/mineral mixtures on the market claiming
to help: I'd try every one before I'd live with it. Google Tinnitus and see
if something speaks to you. I found the following article quite informative
"Tinnitus and Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
For many people, tinnitus is a symptom of hearing loss. Over 90 percent of
American Tinnitus Association members report that they have hearing loss in
addition to tinnitus. Many of these people have high frequency hearing loss,
which is often induced by exposure to loud noise. Healthy hearing habits can
help prevent hearing loss and tinnitus. People who do not have tinnitus must
learn how to protect their hearing from loud sounds, while people with tinnitus
must protect their ears, too: the effects of loud noises can worsen existing
tinnitus and further degrade hearing.
Noise-induced hearing loss can be caused by a one-time exposure to loud
sound or by repeated exposure to sounds over an extended period of time. Contrary
to popular opinion, you cannot "toughen up" your ears by regularly listening
to loud noises. It's generally recommended that you avoid loud noises, limit
the amount of time you expose your ears to loud noises, and limit the
intensity of the noises by not standing directly near the sound source.
The loudness of sound is measured in decibels. Earplugs are recommended for
sounds of 85 dB and above. But what does 85 dB mean? The following chart
shows common sounds and their associated sound level.
20 dB Ticking watch 30 dB Quiet whisper 40 dB Refrigerator hum 50 dB
Rainfall 60 dB Sewing machine 70 sB Washing machine 80 dB Alarm clock at two
feet 85 dB Average traffic 95 dB MRI 100 dB Blow dryer, subway train 105 dB
Power mower, chainsaw 110 dB Screaming child 120 dB Rock Concert, thunderclap
130 dB Jackhammer, jet engine plane (100 ft. away) 140 dB Shotgun blast,
airbag deployment, firecracker
When you are exposed to sounds above 85 dB, it is recommended you use
earplugs, earmuffs, or other protection devices. Disposable foam earplugs are
cheap, easy to insert, and effective. Of course, you won't always know how many
decibels a sound source emits and whether you accordingly need protection.
Generally speaking, if you are in an environment and must shout to be heard by
someone else, it's too loud. In addition to inserting earplugs, you can also
make one of two simple choices: reduce the noise (turn off the lawnmower, turn
down the stereo) or walk away from the source. See someone ahead using a
leafblower? Cross the street. Concert too loud? Go to the back of the nightclub,
or take a break by going outside and giving your ears a rest. More healthy
hearing tips are suggested below.
OSHA Daily Permissible Noise Level Exposure
The chart below from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration
outlines recommended exposure times for various sound levels. Many
audiologists think the 90 dB rating over an eight-hour workday is excessive and
recommend exposure to no more than 85 dB over eight hours without hearing
protection. The European Union standards recommend exposure to no more than 85 dB per
Workplaces where sound levels are an average of 85 decibels or higher for
more than eight hours must have hearing conservation programs to protect the
hearing of workers. Typically, hearing conservation programs include hearing
protection devices and education about conservation techniques. For people who
are exposed to loud noises through recreational activities, hearing
protection is just as important, but it's up to the individual to protect his or her
own ears and be aware of how long the exposure continues.
Hours Per Day Sound Level 8 90 dB 6 92 dB 3 90 d7 2 100 dB 1.5 102 dB
1 105 dB .5 110 dB .25 or less 115 dB
Sounds of less than 80 decibels, even after long exposure, are unlikely to
cause hearing loss, although individuals' sound sensitivity can vary. Of
course, it's impossible to predict how you may respond to loud noises. Exposure to
a one-time-only or a continuous noise may cause temporary hearing loss. If
the hearing recovers, this temporary hearing loss is called a temporary
threshold shift, which typically disappears 16 to 48 hours after exposure to loud
However, the hearing loss can also be permanent if the sounds damage or
destroy the delicate ear cells in your inner ear called cilia. These cells, once
damaged or destroyed, cannot be repaired. Research into regenerating inner
ear cells is underway but not advanced enough to be of benefit to humans.
Hearing Conservation Tips
Hearing conservation means protecting your ears from excessively loud
sounds. Earplugs are recommended when you are exposed to sounds of 85 dB and above.
As a general rule, if noise is too loud for you to speak at a normal
conversation level and be heard, you should wear earplugs, move away from the noise
source, or better yet, turn it down. More tips:
1. Be conscious of the noise in your environment. If you are standing three
feet away from someone and you can't hear what that person is saying to you
the noise level is likely damaging to your hearing.
2. Wear earplugs during the trailers at the movies. The volume is typically
cranked up for these. Ask the manager of the theatre to turn the volume down
if the movie is too loud. They will very often comply with this request.
3. Take earplugs to amusement parks and concerts...and wear them! You will
still be able to hear. Earplugs just cut out 15-20 decibels of loud sounds.
4. Wear earplugs or protective earmuffs when using a power lawn mower, power
tools, and noisy household appliances, like a vacuum.
5. Read the labels for noise levels on appliances, children's toys, and any
product that generates sound.
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