Be aware of the dangers
People have been urged to be aware of certain everyday household appliances that can permanently damage their hearing.
Specsavers reveal that while many people think their hearing may be better protected now that we’re in lockdown, many sounds around our homes and gardens are in fact potentially damaging to our hearing.
Specsavers audiologist, Orla Walsh, says: ‘With gigs and festivals cancelled and bars and restaurants closed, it’s easy to think that we are no longer exposing ourselves to loud noises, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Listening to any sound at high volume – which is classed as more than 85 decibels (db) – can cause permanent hearing loss, tinnitus, or both.’
While most of us are aware that using earphones on high volume could cause damage to our hearing, we aren’t as savvy when it comes to other household appliances. Appliances such as a lawnmower could damage hearing, as well as a hair dryer (95db), blender (90db) and vacuum cleaner (85db), which are also household hearing loss culprits that could cause damage if repeatedly exposed to over a prolonged period of time. Doorbells and electric shavers, which measure 80db on average, are also noises to be mindful of, along with washing machines (75db).
When it comes to our gardens, using a lawnmower to cut the grass can be particularly detrimental to our hearing, as typically these measure at 110db.
Orla says: ‘To put this into context, normal levels of conversation are about 65db and things like concerts can reach 110db, so when using this piece of machinery, it is best practice to wear ear defenders or hearing protection. Also, never listen to your music above 60% of full volume. Cancelling out background noise by turning up the volume can cause long-term damage to your hearing and conditions such as tinnitus, which is irreversible.’
She adds: ‘Sounds are measured on a logarithmic scale, so an increase from 80db to 90db doesn’t mean that the sound has increased by 10% but rather that it has increased tenfold. In other words, a sound at 90db is ten times louder than a sound at 80db.’
While you can’t control the volume on a lot of these appliances, you can reduce your exposure to them by limiting the amount of time you spend using them.
‘This is particularly important for those that have a sound level over 105db, as anything above this will begin to damage your hearing, warns Orla.