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Noisy Christmas Toys 2021

Every year, the Sight and Hearing Association tests a random selection of toys on the market for the holiday season. This year, they tested 24 toys, 19 of which tested louder than 85 decibels (dB).  This is the level where the National Institute of Occupation Health and Safety (NIOSH) mandates hearing protection.

This year’s loudest toy is well known character from the Disney movie, Moana. This model of HeiHei, the chicken, reaches levels of 109.7 dB. The screech, which the authors described as “blood curdling” and “terrifying,” reaches a level that could cause hearing damage in a matter of minutes. Testing was also conducted at a distance equal to the average arm length of a toddler and levels still reached over 90 dB.

Disney Moana Squeeze and Scream HeiHei

The Sight and Hearing Association recommends using a free sound level meter app on smartphones. Although not perfect, it will give you an idea of how loud your child’s toys are.  Even easier, if you feel like the toy is too loud for you, it is too loud for your child. They also recommend checking return policies with stores. If a loud toy enters your house this holiday season, you may be able to return it, if you can get it away from your child.

For more information, check out the Sight and Hearing Association’s website: http://sightandhearing.org/Services/NoisyToysList%C2%A9.aspx

October is National Protect Your Hearing Month!

Although most people tend to see audiologists after they have already started noticing hearing difficulties, audiologists also strive to educate the public on protecting their hearing. Back in July, we posted a blog about the different types of hearing protection. Many of these you can buy over the counter, but some custom-made devices need to be fit by an audiologist.

The American Academy of Audiology agrees with OSHA standards in regards to which levels of sound, and for how long, can damage your ears permanently. For instance, repeated or length exposure to sound above 85 decibels (dB) can damage hearing. Average conversation is usually around 60-65 dB, jet engines are typically around 150 dB, and those lawn mowers that people are using without hearing protection are around 85 dB, which is the level at which damage can start. Other recreational activities have high levels of sound that can damage your hearing: shooting a gun (140-175 dB depending on the firearm), concerts (can reach 120 dB), action movies in a theater (100 dB).

According to the American Academy of Audiology, there is an easy way to remember the main ways to protect your hearing: EARS.

The four main ways for protecting your hearing are:

  • E – earplugs
  • A – avoid loud sounds
  • R – reduce the level of sounds
  • S – shorten time in loud environments

If you have been exposed to this type of noise, even if it was years ago, there is a good chance you have some hearing loss. To schedule a hearing test or an appointment with one of our audiologists to discuss custom hearing protection, call our office at 904-399-0350.

Learn more from the American Academy of Audiology at audiology.org

Sporting events and Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

With August comes the start of a new school year, and also the beginning of football season. While many people enjoy the atmosphere of game day, they don’t always recognize that sounds could be loud enough to damage their hearing. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as many as 40 million U.S. adults may have noise-induced hearing loss. The good news is that noise-induced hearing loss can be prevented. The chart below shows the average decibel levels for many common sounds.

Source: The American Academy of Audiology

As the chart shows, sporting events such as football games can reach levels of 110 decibels or more! Exposure to this level of noise over several hours can be damaging to your hearing. The Guinness world record for the loudest NFL crowd noise was set by the Kansas City Chiefs fans in 2014. The roar of the crowd was measured at an ear-shattering 142.2 decibels!

Even smaller scale sporting events can have noises loud enough to damage hearing. It’s a good idea to bring a pair of earplugs with you, just in case sounds reach loud levels. If you are concerned you may have noise-induced hearing loss, you should schedule a hearing evaluation with an audiologist to learn more about your hearing. We only get one pair of ears, so it is important to protect your hearing as much as possible.  

Types of Hearing Protection

One of the prominent causes of hearing loss is excessive noise exposure. For many patients, they have grown up hunting and target shooting, or have worked many years in a very noisy job. Unfortunately, one the damage from noise has been done, there is no way to reverse it. Instead, we ask all of our patients to use hearing protection when they are going to be around excessive noise.

There are different types of hearing protection. The one that works the best is the one that you will wear consistently and properly.

Styles:

  • Over the ear: These devices look like headphones, or are sometimes referred to as “Mickey Mouse ears” due to their bulk.  These cover the external part of the ear and block out many external sounds.
  • In the ear (non-custom): These devices are generally available at drug stores and are made of foam or plastic.  Non-custom devices fit into the ear with a tight fit and come in an array of sizes.
  • In the ear (custom): For a more secure fit, custom molded hearing protection can be made. This requires a silicone-like mold of your ear to be made, then sent to an outside company for crafting. These are typically a rubber-like material.

Types of Sound reduction: Hearing protection can be divided into two categories of sound reduction; active and passive.

  • Passive: Passive hearing protection uses the physical piece as the method of blocking the sound. These are less expensive than active hearing protection as there is no electronics within the devices. The foam hearing protection that is seen at drugs stores is a form of “passive” hearing protection. Passive hearing protection can be custom and non-custom.
  • Active: Active hearing protection uses not only the physical properties of the device, but also electronics to reduce sound.  Active hearing protection uses external microphones to analyze sounds in the surrounding area, then shut off when a loud sound is identified. Many hunters utilize active hearing protection to hear their environment, but the sound of the firearm is reduced. Active hearing protection can be custom or non-custom.

Here are some situations where Hearing protection should be utilized:

  • Hunting/shooting
  • Power tools, including lawn mowers
  • Noisy work environments – factories, mills, military, aircraft

If you are interested in custom hearing protection, JHBI can help. We are able to take custom molds and order both active and passive hearing protection.