Wed | Sep 19, 2018

Tis the season to protect your hearing

Published:Wednesday | December 20, 2017 | 12:00 AMDeniese Badroe
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In this Yuletide season, as we share good times with family, friends and co-workers, it is important that everyone attending functions or entertainment venues where there are loud sounds try to avoid or adequately guard against such sounds, as they could be detrimental to and damage the hearing.

Hearing loss is irreversible but it is preventable. If you are a musician or work in the entertainment industry, you know the value of your ears. This is the season where there will be lots of parties with fireworks, firecrackers and amplified systems, spurting sounds of 85 decibels and over. Have fun but be careful.

 

SOUND LEVELS

 

The decibel is the unit used to measure the intensity of sound. The ear can hear everything from the sound of fingertips brushing lightly on skin to an airplane. An increase of 10 decibels means that the sound is 10 times more powerful or intense on the decibel scale. Meaning it is twice as loud to the ears.

Normal breathing is 10 decibels, normal conversation is 60 decibels, and noise from a vacuum cleaner can reach up to 80 decibels. A firework emits sound from 120-150 decibels and is a source of noise-induced hearing loss.

Long or repeated exposure to sound that is 85 decibels and over can also cause hearing loss. Acoustic trauma is where a single exposure to very high levels of over 124 decibels will cause permanent hearing loss. Children and elderly people are more sensitive to noise. A child's ear registers sound up to 20 decibels louder than an adult ear.

Revellers believe that the amplified sound generates much excitement and an electrifying atmosphere. But be on your guard, you might enjoy the music today but lose the ability to listen to it in years to come.

The pain threshold of an individual is approximately 120-140 decibels; however, damage can also be caused by prolonged exposure to 85

decibels, such as noisy machines at industrial sites. In spite of the music being amplified, creating much energy and pleasure and no pain, it is not safe. Damage to the ear may be imminent.

 

HEARING LOSS

 

Loud noise overstimulates the tiny hair cells in the cochlea or inner ear. These cells are responsible for transmitting the sound waves to the brain, which interprets the wave as sound. Damaged cells cannot function properly, consequently, impairing the auditory mechanism. Currently, there is no repair to damaged hair cells, which means that noise-induced hearing loss is permanent.

 

PROTECT YOUR EARS

 

Once you are exposed to sound over 85 decibels for an extended period, you should protect your ears. An option to protect your ears during this festive season and thereafter, which comes highly recommended for persons working in noise-prone industries such as entertainment, transportation and construction, is to wear noise plugs. With the earplugs you still get to hear the music at relatively good level to enjoy and not destroy your hearing, approximately 30 decibels of sound is reduced making it safe for listening.

The Jamaica Association for the Deaf (JAD) Hearing Services provides noise plugs for musicians and anyone who is exposed to noise for any extended period. If you have any questions about noise and hearing loss, or if you are often in situations where you are exposed to loud noise, contact JAD Hearing Services, provider of high-quality hearing assessment and hearing devices for children and adults. JAD Hearing Services also specialises in custom-made earplugs in every colour for everyone, including musicians and industrial workers.

- Deniese Badroe is the director of Business Development Division at the Jamaica Association for the Deaf (JAD), Hope Estate, Papine; Email: dbadroe@jamdeaf.org.jm; website: jamdeaf.org.jm. For more

information call 926-7001 or go online at www.jadclinic.com.jm