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Loud sounds, long exposure can be risky for hearing

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By Julie Gorham

Maureen Tambasco recommends turning down loud music — or risk losing your hearing.  

“Listening to loud music is causing hearing problems, even going to the race track can hurt if you are not wearing the proper protection,” Tambasco said. 

She said music that makes you uncomfortable means it is most like causing damage. 

Tambasco is the executive director of Citrus Hearing Impaired Program Services (CHIPS), where she meets new people every day for noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), an issue caused by experiencing loud sounds for an extended period. 

Sound is measured in decibels (dB), which determines the loudness of a sound. A casual conversation measures around 60 dB, while a lawnmower measures around 95 dB. Tambasco said anything over 85 dB can cause damage and hearing problems years down the road.

And it’s not just how loud the sound is; it’s also how long you listen to those sounds. Loudness is affected by how close you are to those sounds, too,” she said. “The closer you are, the louder and more damaging it becomes.

“Concerts are a big thing — they are thunderous,  you can’t talk to the person next to you, which is putting your ears at risk and it won’t show right away.”

Tambasco said the damage can take time to show up, with one current issue being “military men who didn’t have proper protection during the 1950s or ’60s.”  

But there is hope. CHIPS has a program specifically for children and teens called Risky Ears, to inform young people about how to take care of their hearing through a careful hearing intelligent prototype, also known as Chip, that can measure sound waves.  

An  IPOD or MP3 player can damage your hearing, but Chip can tell you if you’re listening to your music player too loudly, Tambasco said. We all love the sounds of birds and love to sing along to our favorite songs, so taking a moment to understand hearing and how to take care of our ears is important, she said. 

For more information, visit online at www.citrushearingimpaired.org/RiskyEars-Kids.html.

 

Contact Chronicle reporter Julie Gorham at 352-563-3236 or jgorham@chronicleonline.com.