How Loud is Too Loud?

man with headphones

To prevent damage to your ears, don’t expose your ears to high-decibel volumes for an extended period of time.

The louder the volume, the less time you should be exposed. Arnaldo Rivera, MD, medical director of MU Health Care’s ENT, Hearing and Balance Center, offers a look at decibel levels of common sounds. Decibel levels higher than 85 are harmful and hearing protection should be worn.

Sound Decibel level
Normal conversation, background music 60 dB
Vacuum cleaner, average radio 75 dB
Power lawnmower 88 dB (hearing damage in one hour)
Sports event 94-110 dB (hearing damage in 30 minutes)
Sirens 110-129 dB (hearing damage in less than one minute)
Rock concert 120 dB (hearing damage in less than eight seconds)
Gunshot 140 dB (immediate danger to hearing) 

Take precaution when you’re around loud noises to keep your hearing intact for years to come. Rivera recommends using earplugs for anything louder than normal conversation. If you’re at an event, try to distance yourself from the speakers in addition to using earplugs. For noisy yard work, make sure to wear earplugs and don’t listen to music that’s too loud either. Parents, discuss the dangers of loud noises with your children to protect their hearing. Teenagers are more frequently listening to music or attending events that are too loud and damaging their ears. Whenever possible, try to avoid prolonged periods of loud noises to protect your family.

Most people don’t recognize warning signs – pain or ringing in your ears – of hearing damage until it’s too late. And if loud noises no longer bother you, that means you’ve already lost some hearing. If you believe you might need a hearing test or have hearing damage, call our office to schedule a check-up.