How loud is too loud?

It’s Hearing Awareness week and as a result, there are some good video demonstrations of how easy it is for people to damage their hearing.

One of the best is this one, available on Facebook.

This is a short video that demonstrates the noise levels of a variety of entertainment sounds, environmental sounds and tools and how long you can safely listen to them without risk of damaging your hearing.

If you can’t access the video on Facebook there is a noise simulator on the Australian Hearing Awareness website that allows you to choose the sound for yourself and hear for yourself how loud it actually is, and see how long you can safely listen to it before damaging your hearing.

Why is this so important?

It’s important because deafness can’t be fixed in the same way that issues with your eyes can. If you are short-sighted or far-sighted you can wear corrective lenses and your sight returns to 20:20 or pretty close to it.

Even with the newest technologies, such as cochlear implants, a deaf person is still deaf. This video demonstrates what sound is like for somebody with a cochlear implant.

In contrast, this video demonstrates what sound is like for somebody using a hearing aid or FM system in a classroom.

As you will realise, neither technologies are returning the deaf person’s hearing to normal.


Yes, deaf and Deaf people can do anything but hear. However, it is hard for us to make sense of the world around us. So as somebody who doesn’t have a choice about my hearing loss, it astounds me when I see people not wearing ear protection and constantly risking hearing loss.

The worse culprit is all the MP3 players and in the ear headphones with no sound limiter. If I can hear what you’re listening to there is a problem. You are damaging your hearing.


The assumption has always been that aside from a few people who are born with hearing loss that most loss occurs in old age. However, as this chart below shows that’s not actually the case. We are seeing increasing numbers of people with hearing loss right from young adults all the way through to old age since the invention of personal stereos in all their different forms.


In fact, the cause of hearing loss is most often due to loud noise exposure!


Even a little hearing loss starts impacting your life pretty quickly. This is an audiogram which is used to measure hearing. The x-axis (left to right) is the frequency of the sound and includes high-pitched sounds and very low bass sounds. The y-axis (up and down) is the amount of

This is an audiogram which is used to measure hearing.

The x-axis (left to right) is the frequency of the sound and includes high-pitched sounds and very low bass sounds.

The y-axis (up and down) is the amount of decibels in volume.

So if you had your hearing tested and measured around the 40Db range you can see instantly that speech becomes impossible for you to understand.

Now most people don’t have a flat line of hearing loss. The pink line shows the common banana shape of most hearing loss.


Basically, this means that you would have to have sounds amplified by the amount of your loss to bring you to somewhat normal volume but as the previous videos showed you hearing aids and cochlear implants don’t sound the same as ‘normal hearing’.

You still have to learn to interpret what you hear and as soon as you take them off, for a shower, to swim or to sleep then you are deaf once more.

So as somebody who has no choice about my hearing loss, who has accepted it culturally and believes strongly that the deaf/Deaf can do anything I still think it’s incredibly important for the hearing to protect their hearing.


Helen Keller said it best,

“Blindness cuts us off from things,
but deafness cuts us off from people”.

This obviously worked well for Beethoven in terms of his productivity but did nothing to assuage his loneliness as a person.


Deafness is very isolating unless you’re fortunate enough to have friends and family that work with you and assist you in communicating. Better yet, if you’re able to access the Deaf culture within your local community and be a part of it that can help mitigate the isolation.

However, as so many people are starting to experience hearing loss in mid-life they’ve already established their families and social community. It’s hard to leave one for another, even if that other is available to you. It has been very rare in my life that there has even been a Deaf community available to me simply due to where I have been living.

So, please, please consider your hearing. Buy the headphones with sound limiters, not just for your kids but for yourself as well. Turn down the TV, the stereo; attend concerts and go to nightclubs but use earplugs – take regular rests from the sound. If you have noise exposure at work insist on ear protection and wear it!

Being deaf doesn’t mean that you’re stupid but some people do seem to become deaf due to their acting stupidly!

Protect your ears!

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