My colleagues and I have a tremendous challenge. Hearing loss isn’t on the radar screen of many young people. Yet, based on what we see in our office and recent research, every young person needs to be aware of their risk of hearing loss. Teens and younger adults often don’t realize concerts, nightclubs, parties, and earbuds can put them at risk of hearing loss.

That may come as a surprise since our society tends to associate hearing loss with being a senior citizen. Age-related hearing loss isn’t the only kind we should be concerned about. Repeated exposure to a high level of noise can damage hearing in people of all ages. That’s known as noise-induced hearing loss.

How Much Noise Is Too Much?

We use decibels to measure how loud a sound is. Usually, noise-induced hearing loss comes from regular exposure to sound that’s 85 decibels or higher. You don’t have to install a sound meter app on your phone to determine how loud an environment is. If you can’t hear people speaking who are within three feet of you, the noise level is high enough to harm your hearing. You’ve probably guessed the decibel level is frequently too high at concerts, nightclubs, and parties.

Recreational Noise Exposure Is the Issue

At one time, noise-induced hearing loss was mainly associated with work-related noise exposure. These days we’re seeing younger adults with noise-related hearing loss who’ve never worked in a noisy environment. A recent study suggests recreational noise exposure is responsible for noise-induced hearing loss in young people.

The study participants were aged 18 to 27 and included musicians and non-musicians. The researchers were surprised to discover musicians and non-musicians had no difference in their amount of noise exposure. Musicians and non-musicians had received most of their noise exposure during recreational activities like going to nightclubs and concerts. Worst of all, study participants who had the highest levels of noise exposure already had developed early signs of hearing damage.

In the United States, noise exposure in the workplace is regulated. Federal law requires employers to provide protective equipment such as earplugs or safety earmuffs to workers exposed to high levels of noise. Concerts and clubs typically exceed the noise levels that would mandate protective equipment for workers. Of course, entertainment venues aren’t required to provide patrons with protective gear.

How to Protect Your Hearing

You can prevent noise-induced hearing loss. As a hearing care professional, my advice is to stay away from noisy environments. I’m also a realist who knows most young people aren’t going to stop attending loud parties, nightclubs, and concerts. It’s possible to reduce your risk of hearing loss when you’re in a noisy environment. Stay as far as possible away from the source of the sound. Wearing musician earplugs lets you enjoy the music while protecting your ears.

Conventional earplugs or safety earmuffs are a good idea for anyone who participates in noisy activities like using a gas-powered lawnmower, hunting, riding a motorcycle, or attending sporting events. The CDC says five in ten young people have the volume set too high when they’re using earbuds or headphones. Turning the volume down to about half the device’s capacity is helpful.

If you or someone you know has been experiencing uncomfortable hearing loss symptoms, contact our team or schedule a Tele Audiology appointment. Our full safety protocol for in-person appointments is available here.

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Dr. Lacey Brooks, CCC-A, FAAA - Doctor of Audiology

Dr. Lacey Brooks, CCC-A, FAAA - Doctor of Audiology

Dr. Lacey Brooks received a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry in 2003, and earned her doctorate of audiology in 2009. She completed her clinical internships and residency at various facilities within Houston Medical Center. Dr. Brooks is a professional member of the American Tinnitus Association (ATA), a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology (AAA), a member of the Texas Academy of Audiology (TAA), and is certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). She is also the vice president of the Louisiana State University Houston Chapter Alumni Association.
    Staff at North Houston Hearing Solutions are amazing. They are always very attentive…

    “Staff at North Houston Hearing Solutions are amazing. They are always very attentive. Dr Lacey Robinson always takes the time to set my hearing aids exactly the way I want them. I have been a patient since 2008 and will continue to be for as long as they will have me”
    Brian Becvar

    I have been a patient of Dr Lacey’s for four years and she has been the best for me...

    “I have been a patient of Dr Lacey’s for four years and she has been the best for me. She always treats me with respect. I would not consider going anywhere else. She is friendly and always has my best interest in her mind. All the staff is exceptional aswell”
    Dan Payne

    I have been seeing Dr Lacey Robinson at North Houston Hearing Solutions since November 2014. I have been very happy with the service....

    “I have been seeing Dr Lacey Robinson at North Houston Hearing Solutions since November 2014. I have been very happy with the service she and her associates have provided me. She is always willing to help me out even on short notice. I am very happy to have her as my audiologist. She goes the extra mile to ensure I am hearing like I should. Thank you Lacey!”
    Daniel Feuerbach

    Very professional, very friendly, very concerned with your total quality of life…

    “Very professional, very friendly, very concerned with your total quality of life. The hearing aids have reduced the stress in my marriage. We can now agree on the volume on the tv”
    Dennis Agnelly

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    “The people in the office are very nice and helpful. I love Drs, they are ready to take care of you even if you don’t have an appointment. I would recommend for anyone who has hearing needs”
    Florangela Ceballos

    I felt that the audiologist and other staff were always on top of the service I receive...

    “I have been coming to North Houston Hearing Solutions since they moved into the new building. Over the years I have purchased several hearing aids. I have only had great service during all the times. I felt that the audiologist and other staff were always on top of the service I receive. From calling to remind me that it is time to check my hearing aid to helping wade through the insurance paperwork, they were always as nice as can be. I would go nowhere else for hearing aids and the service”
    Marla Lingle

    Dr Lacey has kept me in ears (hearing aids) allowing me to hear without anyone knowing I have hearing aids in place...

    “I’ve been coming to North Houston Hearing Solutions for 5 years now. Dr Lacey has kept me in ears (hearing aids) allowing me to hear without anyone knowing I have hearing aids in place. She has been great and the staff has exceeded my expectations”
    Robert Bush

    I love coming here for doctors visits. Dr Robinson is a great doctor and I enjoy our visits...

    “I love coming here for doctors visits. Dr Robinson is a great doctor and I enjoy our visits. As usual she takes good care of us. The hearing aid is great and we are always treated great”
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