The short answer: yes.
Permanent hearing loss caused by prolonged exposure to loud music or other noises is called Noise Induced Hearing Loss and the NIDCD estimates that it affects approximately 15% of American adults.
Most of us are exposed to unsafe levels of sound in our every day lives, even if we don’t notice it. Personal audio devices, nightclubs, bars, sporting events, etc… can all be sources of unsafe noise/music levels.
Unsafe levels of sound are officially described as sound that is 85+ dB for 8 hours straight, or 100+ dB for as little as 15 minutes. Most of us cannot instinctively measure the levels of sound around us, so a good general rule is to know that levels of sound are most likely harmful if:
- You have to shout over background noise to make yourself heard
- The noise hurts your ears or makes them ring
- You are slightly deaf for hours after the exposure to the noise
Hearing loss is characterized by being unable to hear as well as someone with normal hearing. The normal threshold of hearing is 25dB or better in both ears.
If your hearing is not as good as your family members’ or friends’, you should consult an ENT for proper diagnosis and recommendations on how to manage your hearing problems.
Hearing loss is irreparable; once you lose your hearing it won’t come back. This is why it is so important to take precautions to prevent hearing loss in our every day lives. Here are some tips for doing so:
- Keep the volume of personal audio devices down to safe levels.
- Wear earplugs when visiting an environment with loud sound levels.
- Limit the amount of time you spend in places with loud sound/music levels, as well as the time you spend engaged in activities with potentially unsafe sound levels.
- Visit an experienced ENT to help you determine if you have suffered any hearing loss.
Protect your children by explaining the risks of loud noises/music. The NIDCD has a website specifically designed for children and teens to learn more about this topic.