Is Your Love Of Sports Damaging Your Hearing?Nov 20, 2015
Millions of fans enjoy live sports. It’s a fun way to spend time with friends, cheer for your favorite team, and yell down your rivals. But in all that fun, the secret danger is to your ears. Because any time the noise gets louder than 85 decibels your hearing is at risk of permanent damage.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is both common and completely preventable. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 26 million Americans between the ages of 20 to 69 have permanent hearing damage due to excessive exposure to loud noise.
Hearing Loss Is Permanent
Whether the loud noise is a one-time event or constant exposure, it can damage the hair cells in your inner ear that transmit sounds to the brain, leading to ringing in your ears (tinnitus), pain and hearing loss. Once these hair cells are damaged, your hearing loss is permanent.
Don’t Miss The Best Parts Of The Game
Basketball and hockey are fun to watch, and some of the best parts are the sounds of the game – the ball bouncing on the court, a slap shot or a body check into the boards, and the final buzzer when your team has won. Don’t risk losing the ability to hear these and other sounds because of preventable hearing loss.
Basketball Can Be LOUD!
Basketball is a fast-moving sport, which makes it both exciting to watch and hard on your ears. The cheers and jeers are almost non-stop in a basketball arena, as players quickly move the game up and down the court.
According to The Bleacher Report, the Oracle Arena (home to the Golden State Warriors of Oakland California) is the loudest basketball arena in the NBA where the noise can reach higher than 120 decibels.
The Rose Garden, home of the Portland Trail Blazers, and the United Center, home of the Chicago Bulls, also tip the scales with exceedingly loud noise levels.
How Much Noise Causes Hearing Loss?
Any sustained sounds over 85 decibels can be damaging to your ears, and physical pain starts at 125 decibels. Protect your ears in the arena with earplugs or noise-reducing earmuffs, and turn the volume down if you’re watching it on TV. (Read article: How Much Noise is Too Much?)
Hockey May Be Even LOUDER!
In February 2013, Industrial Safety and Hygiene News reported that noise levels can reach over 120 decibels at ice hockey games. And these results were for collegiate and semi-professional games. Professional ice hockey games can get much louder – the arenas are bigger, more fans means louder cheering, and the arenas even have microphones to catch all the sounds on the ice.
Just like with basketball, don’t leave your hearing to chance at an ice hockey game. Take your own hearing protection with you, and use it.
Protect Your Hearing
This information isn’t meant to keep you out of the stadiums and arenas. On the contrary - get out there this winter and cheer on your favorite teams – just be smart about it.
- Always wear hearing protection. Simple earplugs can be purchased at any drugstore. They are small, easy to wear, and can reduce the noise level as much as 35decibels.
- Don’t stay too close to the noise. Sit away from the public address system, and if it gets too loud in the arena, step out into the hallway to give your ears a break.
- If you’re watching the game on TV or listening to it on the radio, resist the temptation to turn the volume up full blast. It may make you feel closer to the action, but it could cause lasting damage to your hearing.
If you suspect that you have noise-induced hearing loss, visit an experienced audiologist today for a hearing test. Don’t let hearing loss make you miss any part of your favorite games - or your life.
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