The Occupational Safety & Health Administration says people gradually experience hearing loss over time due to repeated exposure to loud noise. And scientists say hearing loss can lead to an increased risk of depression and feelings of loneliness. So if you want to keep your hearing in tact, it's best to limit exposure to the following seven activities.
1. Listening to Loud Music
There's nothing wrong with listening to music 24/7 as long as it's at the right noise level according to hearing experts. Audiologists say it takes less than 10 minutes of listening to your iPod at a decibel level of 100-115 before causing hearing damage. That's right, less than 10 minutes. Experts say you can listen to music as long as you want to, provided it's at a decibel level of less than 85 decibels, which is your iPod turned up to about 80%.
2. Exercising at the Gym
You go to the gym to lose weight, but you might end up losing your hearing too according to noise experts. The combination of the machines, people talking, and music can lead to a 100 decibel environment quite easily. The best way to combat that is to ask the manager to turn down the music or stick in your ear buds and listen to your own music.
3. Loud Concerts, Bars, and Churches
This isn't your grandma's church. Many of today's churches are more like rock concerts with expensive sound systems and worship leaders blaring out notes into amped up microphones. In fact, many worship leaders like the music loud enough so neighbors in the congregation can't hear one another signing.
4. Home Improvement
You often see construction workers wearing earplugs because they understand the loud noises from activities such as drilling, sawing and even hammering nails. Hand drills can easily hit the dangerous 100-decibel level. So if you've got a DIY project planned for the weekend, don't forget the earplugs.
5. Lawn Mower
The seemingly innocuous task of mowing the lawn can actually lead to hearing loss over time. The typical lawn mower reaches about 106 decibels, which is certainly enough to cause damage over time. Many people wear cotton balls, but experts say they provide no hearing protection.
6. Homemade Fireworks Shows
Fireworks shows are great on the eyes, but they can be a hazard to the ears. A firework set off three feet from where you're standing will give your ear a 150-decibel shot, which is enough to cause damage.
7. Hunting/Shooting a Gun
Hunters would be wise to wear those orange earmuffs as firearms can give off over 140 decibels of noise. If the noise is loud enough to make your ears ring, it's loud enough to cause hearing loss.