How Loud Is Too Loud


According to the World Health Organization, more than one billion teens and young adults are at risk of losing their hearing.

By analyzing listening habits of 12- to 35-year-olds in wealthier countries around the world, WHO found nearly 50% of those studied listen to unsafe sound levels on personal audio devices and about 40% are exposed to damaging levels of music and noise at entertainment venues.

CNN: A Billion at Risk for Hearing Loss From Exposure to Loud Music

How do you know if music is too loud?

Just by listening to music at what you probably think is a normal level, or hanging out in loud bars, nightclubs and music and sporting events, you can permanently damage your hearing.

"A good rule of thumb is if the child is wearing ear buds and the parent is able to hear the sound while standing next to them, then the music is too loud," says Dr. Walker.

There can be long-term effects when you’re exposed to loud noises over time when you’re young.

"Once you have hearing loss, there’s a greater risk of it progressing as you get older," says Walker.

What else causes hearing loss?

Hearing loss can be caused by many factors, including age, illness, or genetics.

Modern life has certainly added many ear-damaging elements, such as medication use and loud, continuous noise. Over time, loud sounds from things like motorcycles, concert speakers and power tools can cause permanent hearing loss.

"If you have to shout over the noise around you, it may be loud enough to damage your hearing," says Walker.

How to protect yourself around loud noises

  • Block the noise (wear earplugs, earmuffs, or put hands over ears)
  • Avoid the noise (walk away)
  • Turn down the volume if possible

How do you know if you have hearing loss?

If you have some of these symptoms you might have hearing loss:

  • Difficulty hearing in large groups or noisy places
  • Frequently asking people to repeat themselves
  • You hear but don’t always understand what was said
  • You favor one ear over another

What are the effects of hearing loss for older people?

Experts estimate that three in 10 people over age 60 now have hearing loss.

"Hearing loss affects not only communication, but also earning power, physical health, emotional stability, and perception of mental functioning," says Dr. Walker.

Older adults may be aware their hearing has deteriorated, but are reluctant to seek help. They might not want to acknowledge the problem, are embarrassed by it, or believe they can get by without a hearing aid. Unfortunately, too many wait years to get treatment. Studies have linked untreated hearing loss to irritability, stress, depression, social isolation, reduced alertness, impaired memory and other problems.

Where can you get a free hearing screening?

If you think you might have hearing loss, you can come in for a free screening at the Southridge Audiology Clinic at Intermountain Riverton Hospital during May. Call (801) 285-4613 to make an appointment.