July 10, 2023

Recreational Background Noise and Hearing Loss

General Health

Hearing loss is often viewed as an inevitable sign of aging, but other factors—such as exposure to recreational background noise—are responsible for many cases. Approximately 17% of U.S. adults aged 20–69 years have suffered permanent hearing damage from excessive noise exposure. Fortunately, you can prevent this type of hearing loss by protecting your ears.

Excessive noise exposure damages inner ear hair cells, leading to permanent hearing loss. The effects are cumulative and build up over time. However, a sudden loud noise, such as a gunshot or explosion, can cause immediate and irreversible hearing damage. The threshold for safe hearing is 85 decibels; anything exceeding this level can harm hearing. Recreational background noise originates from many sources, including busy roads, rock concerts, sporting events, motorcycles, boats, snowmobiles, leaf and snow blowers, fireworks and firearms.

Hearing Protection Can Help

Wearing ear protection when exposed to background noise is critical for preventing hearing loss. Earplugs protect your ears from loud noise and prevent foreign substances, such as dust and water, from entering your ear canals. Various earplug styles in different materials are available, and they may be disposable or non-disposable. An extra tip: Choose earplugs that are custom molded to fit the contours of your ears to ensure you receive the best protection.

Custom earplugs have been developed for swimmers, surfers, musicians, hunters and those in law enforcement. Each has specific features to protect the wearer from the dangers associated with their particular recreational activity.

Need help navigating your hearing protection choices? Our audiologists can help you find the best one for your lifestyle needs and budget. Call Fort HealthCare Audiology at 920-563-6667 in Fort Atkinson or 262-473-8920 in Whitewater to explore your options and schedule a hearing evaluation or complimentary hearing screening.