On March 3, join Noisy Planet, the World Health Organization (WHO), and others in spreading the message about healthy hearing in observance of World Hearing Day. This year’s theme is Hearing for life: don’t let hearing loss limit you. Noisy Planet celebrates this annual event by encouraging you and your family to protect your hearing throughout your lives.
Sounds are all around us: at sporting events, on the subway, at concerts, at school, and at work. Sounds can be harmful when they are very loud, even for a short time: just two minutes of exposure to sounds at or above 110 dBA, such as fireworks, can damage your hearing. Sounds can also be harmful when they are not quite as loud but you are exposed over a longer period of time, such as listening to music when the volume is too high.
Noise can damage tiny sensory hair cells within the cochlea—the small, snail-shaped organ for hearing in the inner ear. Damaged hair cells can’t send accurate information about sound to your brain. Some damaged hair cells can’t respond to sound at all. People can't grow new hair cells, so if the damage is so severe that the hair cells die, the hearing loss is permanent. (Watch Noisy Planet’s Journey of Sound video for a detailed explanation of how we hear.)
People of all ages—children, teens, young and middle-aged adults, and older people—can develop hearing loss from noise. Because damage from noise exposure is often gradual, you might not notice it, or you might ignore the signs of hearing loss until they become more noticeable. Over time, sounds may become distorted or muffled, and you might have trouble understanding family and friends when they talk or find yourself turning up the volume on your TV or phone.
Two WHO efforts aim to protect the hearing of people around the world—especially young people. WHO’s “Make Listening Safe” campaign raises awareness about healthy listening practices during activities such as concerts, eating at noisy restaurants, and listening to music. WHO also recommends that governments and manufacturers adopt the WHO/International Telecommunication Union international standard for the manufacture of listening devices and systems. The standard outlines the features that safe personal listening devices should have. These features include personal “sound allowances,” individualized recommendations for safe listening, volume-limiting and parental volume control options, and tips on safe listening practices.
Noisy Planet and WHO encourage your family to make healthy hearing a habit and prevent hearing loss from noise for a lifetime. Practice safe listening by taking these three simple steps:
- Lower the volume.
- Move away from the noise.
- Wear hearing protectors, such as earplugs or protective earmuffs.
Help spread the message about healthy hearing with these resources: