[Infographic version]


To protect your hearing, use earplugs — and try to avoid loud noises.

Noise (sound) is all around us — at school, at home, and all the places in between. It’s everywhere we go.

But being around too much loud noise, like at concerts or fireworks shows, can make you lose your hearing — and once it’s gone, you can’t get it back.

Did you know?

  • 5 in 10 young people (like you) listen to their music or other audio too loudly
  • 4 in 10 young people (like you) are around dangerously loud noises during events like concerts and sports games
  • 48 million people in the U.S. have trouble hearing with one (or both) of their ears

The good news: You can protect your hearing — and still do all the stuff you love!

Check out this noise meter to see how loud different sounds are — and how you can protect your ears when you’re around them.

Loudness is measured in what’s called decibels (dB). Over time, any sound that’s 85 decibels or higher can cause hearing loss — or other hearing problems, like tinnitus (a ringing sound in your ears that won’t go away). The louder a sound is, and the longer you listen to it, the more it can damage your hearing.

Pick a type of sound to see about how loud it is, and get tips to keep your ears safe around noises at that level. You can stop hearing loss!

Type of sound Decibel level What we hear
Whispering 30 dB Your secret is safe! This is totally fine for your ears.
The sound of your fridge humming 40 dB Snack on! This is totally fine for your ears.
The sound of your dishwasher running 45 to 65 dB This level of noise is safe for your ears. Go ahead and scrub the pots and pans while the dishwasher does its job!
Your normal talking voice at arm’s length 65 to 80 dB Chat away! But if you have to yell so people who are nearby can hear you, watch out — the noise around you is probably too loud.
Lawn mower 80 to 100 dB This level of noise can make you lose some of your hearing, so be sure to wear hearing protection. Store a pair of earmuffs near the mower, so it’s easy to remember to put them on!
A movie theater 70 to 104 dB

Seeing a movie on the big screen is fun, but it’s also loud — often, loud enough to make you lose some of your hearing.

To protect your ears, try to sit farther away from the speakers, and put in a pair of earplugs. Then sit back, relax, and enjoy!

Motorcycles 80 to 110 dB You can lose some of your hearing after an hour on a motorcycle, so put in some earplugs (and put on a helmet!) before you ride.
Sports events (like a football or hockey game) 94 to 110 dB You can lose some of your hearing in less than half an hour at a sports game, so be sure to pack some earplugs!
Listening to music with your headphones at the highest volume 96 to 110 dB

You can lose some of your hearing in just a few minutes when you’re using headphones at the highest volume.

To protect your hearing, turn it down to a lower volume. The music will still sound great!

Rock concerts, parties, or nightclubs 95 to 115 dB

You can lose some of your hearing after a few minutes at this noise level — so bring earplugs (the band is wearing them, too!).

And move away from the speakers — it’s even louder if you’re near them.

Sirens from a fire truck, police car, or ambulance 110 to 129 dB

You can lose some of your hearing in less than a minute if you’re near a police car, fire truck, or ambulance siren.

When you see one coming, get away from the noise if you can (for example, by rolling up your car windows). If you’re outdoors, you can also plug your ears with your fingers until the sirens are gone.

Firecrackers and fireworks 140 to 160 dB

Fireworks are a summer favorite, but they can seriously hurt your hearing. If a firecracker explodes near your ear, you could even lose all of your hearing.

To protect your ears, wear earplugs and make sure you’re a safe distance away from where the fireworks are being set off. Then enjoy the show!

Inside your ear, there are lots of tiny fibers that help you hear. Over time, loud noise can damage these fibers — and once they’re damaged, they can’t ever be fixed.

That’s why it’s so important to start protecting your ears now, while you’re young.

Most people don’t feel any warning signs (like pain or ringing in your ears) until their hearing is already damaged. And if you think your ears can just get used to the noise, think again. If loud noises don’t bother you as much as they used to, that means you’ve already lost some of your hearing.

So how can you tell when a noise is hurting your hearing? If there’s so much noise around you that you need to talk extra loud when your friends are only a few feet away, it’s probably hurting your hearing. Time to bring out the earplugs — or go somewhere quieter!

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Start protecting your hearing now!

Want to see how loud the sounds around you are? Look for a free sound level meter app for your smartphone!

Ready to learn more? Check out these links:

CDC cannot answer personal medical questions. Please talk to your health care professional about specific questions concerning appropriate care, treatment, or other medical advice. The range of decibel levels reported in this infographic are derived from the Noise Navigator™ Sound Level Database — temporary and permanent hearing loss depends upon how close you are to an activity and how long you are exposed to the noise levels. Exposures above 85 dB can be hazardous to your hearing.

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