Skip to main content
It's a Noisy Planet. Protect Their Hearing.

Download Adobe's Flash.

Music isn't just for fun. It helps people celebrate, work, bond, and relax. More information.

Workers exposed to chemicals experience higher rates of hearing loss. More information.

The Noisy Planet website: It's not just in English anymore! More information.


Facts About Noise-induced Hearing Loss

  • Approximately 26 million Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 have high-frequency hearing loss from overexposure to loud noises at work or during leisure activities. More than 30 million Americans are exposed to dangerous levels of noise on a regular basis.
  • Noise-induced hearing loss is 100 percent preventable.
  • Symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss will increase gradually. Over time, the sounds a person hears may become distorted or muffled, and it may be difficult for the person to understand speech. Someone with noise-induced hearing loss may not even be aware of the loss, but it can be detected with a hearing test.
  • Noise-induced hearing loss is related both to the decibel level of a sound and to the amount of time you are exposed to it. Your distance from the sound also matters.
  • Noise-induced hearing loss is related to a person's genes. Some people are more likely than others to develop noise-induced hearing loss when they listen to certain sounds. Scientists are working to determine which people are more at risk for noise-induced hearing loss and which are less at risk.
  • Researchers who study hearing loss have found that a person who is exposed to noise levels at 85 decibels or higher for a prolonged period of time is at risk for hearing loss.
  • Many devices that children use today have noise levels much higher than 85 decibels. For example, an MP3 player at maximum level is roughly 105 decibels. That's 100 times more intense than 85 decibels!
  • Children frequently participate in activities involving potentially damaging noise levels: playing with noisy toys, band instruments, and video games; listening to personal music players and stereos at high volumes; attending concerts and movies; operating lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and power tools; and riding off-road vehicles and snowmobiles.
  • 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. These structures, called hair cells, are small sensory cells in the inner ear that convert sound energy into electrical signals that travel to the brain.
  • Scientists believe that, depending upon the type of noise, the pure force of vibrations from loud sounds can cause hearing loss. Recent studies also show that exposure to harmful noise levels triggers the formation of molecules inside the ear that contribute to hair cell damage and noise-induced hearing loss. These destructive molecules play an important role in hearing loss in children and adults who listen to loud noise for too long.
  • Noise-induced hearing loss is cumulative, invisible, and permanent. It's cumulative because the damage can start when we are young and get worse over time. It's invisible because it can happen without our even noticing it, until it's too late. And it's permanent because, unlike a broken arm that gets better over time, we can't "heal" our hearing. Once it's damaged, it's damaged for good.