For this upcoming Super Bowl weekend, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a message for all sports fans: Protect your hearing!

Everyday sounds typically do not damage your hearing. However, many people participate in activities that produce harmful sound levels, such as attending loud sporting events and music concerts, and using power tools, which repeated over time will cause hearing loss. Loud sound (noise) can damage sensitive parts of the ear, causing hearing loss, ringing or buzzing in the ear (tinnitus), and increased sensitivity to sound (hyperacusis). Repeated exposure to loud noise over the years affects how well you hear later in life and how quickly you develop hearing problems, even after exposure has stopped.

 

How loud is too loud?

Sound is measured in decibels (dB). A whisper is about 30 dB, normal conversation is about 60 dB, and a motorcycle engine running is about 95 dB. Noise above 85 dB over a prolonged period of time may start to damage your hearing. Loud noise above 120 dB can cause immediate harm to your ears.

 

You can see below some everyday situations that can easily damage hearing. Sunday’s Super Bowl will be held at an indoor stadium, where things are expected to get extremely loud!

 

Gas-powered lawnmowers and leaf blowers:

90 db — Damage to hearing is possible after two hours of exposure.

Motorcycle:

95 db — Damage to hearing possible after 50 minutes.

Approaching subway train, car horn at 16 feet (5 meters), and sporting events (such as hockey playoffs and football games):

100 db — Hearing loss possible after 15 minutes.

The maximum volume level for personal listening devices; a very loud radio, stereo, or television; and loud entertainment venues (such as nightclubs, bars, and rock concerts):

105-110 db — Hearing loss possible in less than 5 minutes.

Shouting or barking in the ear:

110 db — Hearing loss possible in less than 2 minutes.

Standing beside or near sirens:

120 db — Pain and ear injury.

Firecrackers:

140-150 db — Pain and ear injury.

 

Health experts at the CDC suggest five ways to protect your hearing. (And, yes, I can hear my mother’s voice in my head as I read this):

  1. Turn the volume down.
  2. Walk away from the loud noise.
  3. Take breaks from the noise.
  4. Avoid loud, noisy activities and places.
  5. Use hearing protection.

 

Properly fitting hearing protection devices like soft foam earplugs are cheap, portable, and effective in reducing the level of sound entering the ears. Getting them to fit and stay in an infant’s or young child’s ear canals may be more of a challenge. Avoiding exposure to loud noises in the first place and being aware of the potential for hearing damage if loud noises are encountered may be the best parents can do to protect their child’s hearing.

The CDC is putting one-page advertisements in the printed programs for NHL, NBA, and NFL events this winter. You can view the official Super Bowl LIII digital program here.

Enjoy the game… quietly!