When you watch racing events or shooting events on the television, you always see people wearing hearing protection. While many people know that loud noises can cause hearing loss, it is often unclear exactly how loud a noise has to be to cause damage. Here are several situations that are often overlooked as potential origins of hearing damage.
Certain medications can be toxic to your hearing, such as painkillers. Most painkillers, like aspirin or ibuprofen, must be taken in high dosages for an extended period of time to do damage to the sensory cells. People will often experience warning symptoms (vertigo and ringing in the ears) prior to suffering from actual inability to hear. The silver lining to this hearing loss is that it is often temporary and hearing returns to normal after the medication is discontinued.
Sound of Traffic
If you live near a busy street, ride in a convertible, or wait near a subway, you are more likely to suffer from hearing loss. Cars are designed to help dampen the outside noise, but convertibles lose much of this ability. Even with the windows rolled up and the top down, you are going to hear more screeching brakes and passing traffic then you would in a standard vehicle. Similarly, if you are waiting in a subway station regularly, the tires grinding along the tracks echoing off the walls of the station can lead to decibels well above 85.
Smoking is usually blamed for causing oral and lung cancer, but it can also lead to hearing loss. Nicotine prevents the blood from flowing, which then prevents oxygen from reaching all the body parts. Many smokers will notice the tips of their fingers turn blue due to lack of oxygen, but they do not think about their ears not getting enough oxygen.
Construction sites are known to be loud, and require hearing protection. However, jobs that require people to work near machines and super computers will also suffer hearing loss. The hearing loss from these types of atmospheres is often slower and over a period of a few years. It is recommended that if you work in a noisy environment to have your hearing checked periodically to catch hearing loss early.
In addition to racing, attending any sporting event can cause hearing loss. The sound levels in a stadium with cheering fans can reach dangerous levels quickly. Many stadiums will also compete for the status of the loudest fans. These events not only can cause temporary damage (ringing of the ears) but also cause permanent hearing loss in only a few minutes. They have the ability to reach decibels that are far above concerts, which people are aware of the dangers.
Should your hearing start to go, you may need to start wearing a hearing device.