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Hearing loss is often viewed as an inevitable sign of aging, but exposure to recreational background noise can also cause hearing loss. Noises exceeding 85 dB can cause hearing damage. Some examples of recreational background noises you may have been exposed to are:

• Motorcycle - 95 dB

• Leaf blower and some lawn mowers - 80-85 dB

• Sporting events with large crowds, buzzers, announcements - 100 dB

• Very loud stereo/TV, rock concert - 105-110 dB

• Firecrackers - 140-150 dB

At 110 dB, hearing loss can occur in less than two minutes.

Excessive noise exposure causes damage to the hair cells of the inner ear, leading to permanent hearing loss. The effects are cumulative and build up over time, but a sudden loud noise, such as a gunshot or explosion, can cause immediate and irreversible hearing damage.

Wearing ear protection when exposed to background noise is the single most important step you can take in preventing hearing loss. Many styles are available - many of them geared towards specific recreational activities - and they can be made of memory foam, silicone and other materials. Earplugs may be disposable or non-disposable.

Custom earplugs have been developed for swimmers, surfers, musicians, hunters and those in law enforcement, each designed to protect the wearer from the unique dangers associated with that activity.

For more information about available options, including custom hearing protection, contact Arizona Hearing Specialists for an appointment at 520-399-7652.

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