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Protect Your Hearing

Protect Your Hearing

Sounds are everywhere, at every level. But love it or hate it, high-volume sound can actually damage your hearing. Here’s what to do and when.

Though your mind registers sound as ”loud” and ”soft,” sound waves may be more precisely measured in decibels (dB). A whisper is about 30dB while a normal conversation measures 60-65dB. Louder sounds like a subway train or city traffic register around 80-95dB. At this point, you should start to take precautions. See the Noise Pollution Infographic to Learn how to Protect Your Ears! Infographic courtesy of

Click the tab below for a live demonstration of various noise levels provided by NIDCD.

Beyond 90-95dB, sustained exposure to loud sounds may result in hearing loss. Even short exposure to sounds over 125dB can cause permanent damage.

What you can do to protect your hearing:

1. Turn it down.

Keep your music listening enjoyable—and healthy—by keeping the volume turned below the halfway mark, especially if using earphones. Even at this level, it’s wise not to use an MP3 player or other audio device for more than four hours a day.

2. Play it safe.

If you work around loud noises, make sure you’re wearing proper protection. OSHA requires ear protection in most noisy environments, so use it even if you’re not regularly in loud areas. Remember to be safe at home, too. Invest in ear protectors when using power tools and lawn equipment.

3. Choose wisely.

You can make active choices about the sound level in your home by choosing low-noise appliances. Refrigerators, air conditioners, etc. may have dB ratings you can compare before you buy.

4. Stand back and take cover.

You can’t avoid every loud noise. But when you know one is coming, do your part to stay safe. Step back from a source like an amplifier or subway. Cover your ears when walking past construction work. Just cupping your hands over your ears or gently putting your fingers in your ear canals can make a healthy difference to your long-term hearing.


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