The World is Loud and Our Hearing Is Vulnerable

We are exposed to all sorts of sounds every single day - from headphones and traffic to lawnmowers and power tools. Normally, we hear these external sources at safe levels that don’t negatively impact our hearing. But when we are exposed to harmful noise—sounds that are too loud or loud sounds that last a long time—we risk permanent damage.

1.1 billion people are at risk.

20%of people are affected by hearing loss globally.

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20%of people are affected by hearing loss globally.

85dB volume level that can cause hearing loss over time

Is it worth
the risk without protection?

100dB volume level of motorcycle riding at 65 mph
115dB volume level of an average concert venue
130dB volume level while using a power drill
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Frequently asked questions

How loud is too loud?

The risk of hearing damage can be measured in two ways - how loud and how long. Just one loud BOOM above 120 dB can cause immediate harm to your ears, and continuous exposure to noise at 85 dB can be harmful over time. One way to find out? If your experience leaves your ears ringing or dulls your hearing sense, you’ve been listening to something that's too loud or for too long without proper hearing protection.

What is noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL)?

When we are exposed to harmful noise—sounds that are too loud or loud sounds that last a long time—sensitive structures in our inner ear can be damaged, causing noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). These sensitive structures, called hair cells, are small sensory cells that convert sound energy into electrical signals that travel to the brain. Once damaged, our hair cells cannot grow back. In other words, if you overuse it, you lose it.

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the perception of hearing something when nothing’s there. These phantom noises can sound like ringing, buzzing, hissing or clicking. In most cases, tinnitus is caused by one of the following: Exposure to loud noises - long and short-term exposure to loud noises can cause permanent damage. Examples of long-term: blasting music from your headphones for too long, using power tools, mowing the lawn Examples of short-term: going to a loud concert, hearing an explosion Age-related hearing loss - hearing worsens with age, especially for those over 60 years old. Ear bone changes - otosclerosis, or the stiffening of bones in your middle ear may cause tinnitus and tends to run in families.

How long can I listen to loud music?

It depends on the volume. An increase of only a few decibels has a dramatic effect on the danger to hearing. Each increase of 3 Decibels (dB) represents a doubling of noise energy/sound pressure, and halves the safe exposure time you should listen for.

How do I know if I have hearing damage?

Hearing loss can be temporary or permanent. For example, a person who attends a loud concert may come out feeling slightly deaf or experiencing tinnitus. This is a temporary hearing loss and hearing in this case usually recovers within a few hours or a day. Regular or prolonged noise exposure can cause gradual, irreversible damage to the sensory cells, leading to permanent hearing loss. While temporary hearing loss gives no indication of the degree of permanent hearing loss that might eventually be experienced, it is a good predictor of the early development of permanent hearing loss.


As parents you need to play an active role in educating your children about safe listening and monitoring their exposure to loud noise; you also need to be role models of safe listening for your children. You should make sure that your children avoid the use of headphones when possible and use only headphones that provide information about the risks for hearing loss. Parents should also ensure that their children do not increase the volume when they are not supervised. Some devices may be equipped with parental control that allows parents to control the loudness level of the device.

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how we hear

Hearing depends on a series of events that change sound waves in the air into electrical signals. 

1. Sound waves enter the ear canal, which leads to the eardrum.

2. The incoming sound waves vibrate the eardrum and sends these vibrations to three tiny bones in the middle ear. 

3. These bones couple the sound vibrations to fluid vibrations in the cochlea of the inner ear, which is shaped like a snail and filled with fluid. The basilar membrane, an elastic partition runs, splits the cochlea into upper and lower parts. 

4. The vibrations cause the fluid inside the cochlea to ripple and hair cells-sensory cells sitting on top of the basilar membrane-ride the wave.

5. As the hair cells move up and down, microscopic hair-like projections (known as stereocilia) that perch on top of the hair cells bump against an overlying structure and bend. Bending causes pore-like channels, which are at the tips of the stereocilia, to open up. When that happens, chemicals rush into the cells, creating an electrical signal.

6. The auditory nerve carries this electrical signal to the brain, which turns it into a sound that we recognize and understand.

The more we understand hearing, the better we can prevent losing it.