How To Prevent Hearing Loss

Preventing Hearing Loss

Did you know?
About 28 million people in the U.S. have some degree of hearing impairment. 80% of these people have irreversible hearing loss. Source: Better Hearing Institute, 1999 54% of the population over the age of 65 has hearing loss; 4.6% of people ages 18-44 have hearing loss and 14% of people ages 45-64 have hearing loss. Source: Better Hearing Institute, 1999 5% of children (more than 1 million) have hearing loss. Source: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, 1991 1 in 22 infants born in the U.S. has some kind of hearing problem; 1 in every 1,000 infants has a severe or profound hearing loss. Source: NICD, 1989 83 out of every 1,000 children in the U.S. have a hearing loss that significantly effects their education. Source: U.S. Public Health Service, 1990 Hearing is Priceless program
The Holley Ear Institute at St. John Hospital and Medical Center supports the Hearing is Priceless program developed by the House Ear Institute in Los Angeles. Targeted at middle and high school students, this program focuses on increasing public awareness of the reality of noise-induced hearing loss. This age group has been identified as the most immediate risk of developing a hearing loss due to extended exposure to increased volume of stereos, videos and other electronics. Hearing loss can also result from car audio systems, lawn mowers and snow blowers.

Hearing Protection
Hearing protection is used to reduce the intensity or loudness of sound. Hearing protection includes off-the-shelf and custom-made earplugs and earmuffs. Cotton in the ears does not provide adequate protection from noise. It cannot block the ear canal effectively. Earplugs: Earplugs are placed into the ear canal so that they totally block the canal. They come in various pre-made shapes and sizes, or they can be custom made by taking an impression of the ear. Earplugs can reduce noise 15-30 dB depending on how they are made and fit. Earmuffs fit over the ears and reduce the amount of sound that enters the ears. Like earplugs, earmuffs can reduce noise levels by up to 30 dB depending on how they are made and fit.

How Loud Is Too Loud?
Knowing which noises can cause damage can help you preserve your hearing. Sounds louder than 80 decibels are considered potentially dangerous to hearing. The amount of noise and the length of time of exposure determine the amount of damage that occurs. Always wear ear plugs when you're involved in a loud activity.

Some Common Noises
      Rock concerts, Firecrackers  140 decibels 
  Snowmobile 120 decibels
  Chainsaw 110 decibels
  Woodshop 100 decibels
  Lawnmower, motorcycle  90 decibels
  City traffic noise  80 decibels
  Normal conversation  60 decibels
  Refrigerator humming  40 decibels
  Whispered voice  20 decibels

What can happen?
At 110 decibels regular exposure of more than one minute risks permanent hearing loss. At 100 decibels no more than 15 minutes unprotected exposure is recommended. At 90 decibels prolonged exposure to any noise above this level can cause gradual hearing loss.

The audiologists at St. John Hospital and Medical Center are equipped to provide a complete range of audiologic and vestibular testing and rehabilitative services, including hearing aid selection and dispensing.

Appointments can be scheduled by contacting the Audiology department 313-343-3165. You can also contact audiologists at St. John Hospital via e-mail at

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