We all know that loud noise, especially over long periods of time, can cause hearing loss. However, length of exposure and how often this exposure occurs also plays a major role in hearing loss. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, “Noise levels are measured in decibels, or dB for short. The higher the decibel level, the louder the noise. Sounds that are louder than 85 dB can cause permanent hearing loss.”
Therefore, how loud is too loud? For a hair dryer, the sound it produces, on average, falls into the “Very Loud” category which is determined by decibels. The following is a simple graph identifying the noise amount and its effect. Therefore, the sounds from hair dryers is approximately in the middle of the items described in this graph.
|Painful||150 dB = fireworks at 3 feet
140 dB = firearms, jet engine
130 dB = jackhammer
120 dB = jet plane takeoff, siren
|Extremely Loud||110 dB = maximum output of some MP3 players, model airplane, chain saw
106 dB = gas lawn mower, snow blower
100 dB = hand drill, pneumatic drill
90 dB = subway, passing motorcycle
|Very Loud||80–90 dB = hair-dryer, kitchen blender, food processor
70 dB = busy traffic, vacuum cleaner, alarm clock
|Moderate||60 dB = typical conversation, dishwasher, clothes dryer
50 dB = moderate rainfall
40 dB = quiet room
|Faint||30 dB = whisper, quiet library|
Although there are other types of noise produced by objects that are louder than a hair-dryer (80-90dB), it is still important to be aware of the noise output. The noise that comes from hair dryers is somethingmost people do not identify as loud, but it can still cause hearing loss or damage.
The Hearing Loss Association of America has also confirmed the threat of “everyday” noises in association with hearing loss or damage. Although some hearing loss occurs from our genetic make-up, a major cause of hearing loss, in our society, is noise exposure.
Once the tiny hair cells in the ear are damaged or destroyed, they cannot be replaced. Noise is the most common cause for hearing loss and it is completely preventable! We can actually protect those hair cells, and create environments where hearing loss can be obsolete.
Therefore, hair dryers can, in fact, cause hearing damage. However, this is just one of many objects that has the ability to produce a noise output that is harming your hearing. The following is a list of warning signs for dangerous noise levels by The Hearing Loss Association of America.
The noise is too loud when:
- You have to raise your voice to be understood by someone standing nearby
- The noise hurts your ears
- You develop a buzzing or ringing sound in your ears, even temporarily
- You do not hear as well as you normally do until several hours after you get away from the noise.
We live in an extremely noisy world. Volume and length of exposure to noise in this world can damage our delicate hearing instruments; our ears. Some other common house hold items that you may not consider a threat to your hearing include: food processors, vacuum cleaners, and your alarm clock.
By being aware of noise levels, we can better protect our hearing ability. In the case of this article, even the common hair dryer should be considered.
- Noise. (n.d.). Retrieved July 15, 2016, from http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/Noise/
- Prevention of Hearing Loss | Hearing Loss Association of America. (n.d.). Retrieved July 22, 2016, from http://www.hearingloss.org/content/prevention-hearing-loss