Over-protection or Under-production
The right type of hearing protection is very important as over-protecting your hearing is just as dangerous as under-protecting it.
Overprotection causes discomfort and acoustical isolation as well as difficult communication and is the main reason that people take off their hearing protection. If you over protect you are unable to hear warning sounds and the sounds of everyday life. A certain level of sound is important to keep your stress levels down.
If Hearing protection is not worn 100% of the time, effectiveness is reduced dramatically i.e. 5 minutes lack of protection in a full day reduces the overall protection by 40%. Under protection leaves you susceptible to hearing loss.
How much noise is too much?
We consider 85 dB as an acceptable exposure level. This is not 100% safe and a percentage of the workforce will still develop a certain level of hearing damage. And it is based on the level of sound you listen to averaged out over the day, not just at work.
At 80 dB Laeq,8h, around 2% of the workforce is expected to develop some hearing damage. Every 3 db increase in Laeq,8h the allowed exposure time halves i.e. 8 hour at 85 dB is “acceptable” without hearing protection. At 88 dB this is only 4 hours. At 91 dB, 2 hours etc.
Hearing Care Professionals can advise you on the correct level and type of hearing protection best for you. It is not just about getting an app on your phone and measuring the level of the noise, it is also about understanding what your need to hear, how long you are going to be in that situation, what else you might be doing that day, how long you listen to music at a slightly loud level that day , what you need to hear and not hear and not to forget your personal genetic risk factor.
A strong genetic predisposition has been found for noise induced hearing loss.
Noise does not only develop hearing damage, but also fatigue, sleeping problems, irritation, misjudgements, etc.
All information is provided in the interests of Hearing Health education and is of a general nature. In all cases you should consult your doctor or other allied health professional for advice regarding your individual circumstances.