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Old 2nd December 2011, 04:46 AM   #1
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Default PSA: Ear protection

I had quite the scare this week and figured I'd relay the story for those who may not realize what a dramatic change hearing can have on your life.

First off, I was never big on ear protection. In the very rare instances would I don any kind of ear protection. I've stood at the starting line of NHRA races and jet turbine cars where the sound was enough to make your heart skip.

I like music and I like loud music. I've worked on my car running an air ratchet inside of a wheel well.

Still through all that I've had great hearing even though as I've gotten older I always had concerns about the amount of noise I introduce myself to.

Last Thanksgiving my wife wanted a cat door put in. I grabbed the router and went to work. The door is in a recess so its boxed in on all 4 sides. I used the router no more than 60 seconds in total. When I got done I had a ringing in the ears, nothing too bad, figured it would go away.

It did go away but 3 days later came back so bad I could not sleep. Tinnitus as its referred to is permanent if it is hearing loss related. Meaning if the router had damaged my hearing I was stuck with this.

I could not sleep for 3 nights and that was with white noise/music playing to mask the ringing on the 2nd and 3rd night.

Thankfully I am the king of coincidence. I went for a hearing test Tuesday and passed with flying colors even though I had ear wax impacted on the ear drum. Today I went to an ENT who told me the two events were unrelated and the was was pushing on the ear drum causing the issue.

Still it was a very rough week and not something I want to ever repeat or think about having to deal with again. I still have the ringing, constant in the left ear, on and off in the right but the wax was worse in the left than right. Have to do drops for 5 days and they'll remove it.

This could have gone either way and reading on Tinnitus is no fun and as I said it was the mother of coincidences that they happened within days of one another.

Just something to keep in mind because you have no idea how much after the fact you realize that something so short in duration can alter your life.

I'll never be without hearing protection again. After using my new router the first time in an open garage I posted that I needed to pick up some protection. I ended up getting it on Friday but figured it was such a short period of time on Thursday no big deal.

Something to keep in mind.
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Old 2nd December 2011, 05:09 AM   #2
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Thanks for posting this! I used to not worry much about my hearing, however I recently read an article about a man who killed himself because he developed tinnitus while watching a rock concert. Since then, I have become much more concerned with the noise that I am exposed to.
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Old 2nd December 2011, 06:34 AM   #3
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Drastic to say the least. I live with tinnitus. I plan to continue. It isn't the end of the world. I can still tell good audio from bad. If I were a young whippersnapper, I'd probably read this PSA and say, "yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah." Now I'd say heed the warnings, think about what you're doing, have fun but don't overdo it. If you don't want to strut around the nightclub with orange thingies sticking in your ears, at least do it around motors, power tools, etc.
I could surely dictate more from the voice of experience, but I don't want anyone to miss the message.
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Old 3rd December 2011, 11:16 AM   #4
dangus is offline dangus  Canada
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Anyone who's into audio should look after their ears. And should already own an SPL meter. I wear hearing protection when I use gas-powered or electric tools, including a vacuum cleaner. Apart from sparing my hearing, it makes using tools much less stressful. I think I read someplace that because of the stress factor, unpleasant loud noises do more damage than pleasant ones (like enjoyable music).

Some hearing aid stores offer free hearing tests; it's not a bad idea to get one if you haven't been tested since elementary school (ask for a copy of the results... it's not hard to interpret the "frequency response" plot).
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Old 3rd December 2011, 11:22 AM   #5
Mooly is online now Mooly  United Kingdom
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This is quite a good site with an online test that displays results as a graph but please remember it is not the same as using proper calibrated equipment and it also depends a lot on the phones you use,

Equal loudness contours and audiometry - Test your own hearing
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Old 3rd December 2011, 11:27 AM   #6
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I hear that some nice white or pink noise in the background helps to mask a tinnitus.
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Old 3rd December 2011, 11:39 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mooly View Post
This is quite a good site with an online test that displays results as a graph but please remember it is not the same as using proper calibrated equipment and it also depends a lot on the phones you use,

Equal loudness contours and audiometry - Test your own hearing
The last time I tried this test, I used high quality in-the-ear canal type ear phones. I could not hear 12Khz or higher at all. I barely heard 8Khz. I have tinnitus and have had it for years now. I don't know what caused this, since I don't think I've exposed myself to really loud noises very often. I did use a router without hearing protection exactly once, when I was about 16. I went to maybe 2 or so rock concerts in my youth. I don't get it. I can't imagine driving a convertible car with the top down is all that dangerous to hearing (I used to do that a lot).
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Old 3rd December 2011, 11:54 AM   #8
dangus is offline dangus  Canada
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If you've used an SPL meter in the car, you may measure 100 dB of road and wind noise. Some of that noise may be harmless low frequencies. The real danger is that you turn the music up to hear it over the noise. I wince when I think of the hours of driving I did in my old pickup at freeway speeds with Slayer cranked on the 6x9s. Now I wear earplugs, which makes for more pleasant driving.

Even bicycling or walking can be noisy; I've measured over 100 dB at the road side from passing trucks. Transit is another situation where it's tempting to turn the music up too loud. Canal phones are a good idea; it wouldn't be overkill to wear over-the-ear protection as well.

Hammering nails must be pretty loud, and contains a lot of high-frequency content. Cap guns, firecrackers, gunshots. Depending on how sheltered your childhood was.

Last edited by dangus; 3rd December 2011 at 11:57 AM.
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Old 3rd December 2011, 11:59 AM   #9
Mooly is online now Mooly  United Kingdom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dirkwright View Post
The last time I tried this test, I used high quality in-the-ear canal type ear phones. I could not hear 12Khz or higher at all. I barely heard 8Khz. I have tinnitus and have had it for years now. I don't know what caused this, since I don't think I've exposed myself to really loud noises very often. I did use a router without hearing protection exactly once, when I was about 16. I went to maybe 2 or so rock concerts in my youth. I don't get it. I can't imagine driving a convertible car with the top down is all that dangerous to hearing (I used to do that a lot).
Before you draw any conclusions you would have to at least repeat the test on a different PC and with different phones, and preferably with an audio generator too. Dare we ask what age bracket you are in

I have read somewhere (motoring supplements in weekend papers I think) that noise from ragtops and noise bikers endure can be a real issue.
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Old 3rd December 2011, 12:05 PM   #10
Mooly is online now Mooly  United Kingdom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dangus View Post
If you've used an SPL meter in the car, you may measure 100 dB of road and wind noise. Some of that noise may be harmless low frequencies. The real danger is that you turn the music up to hear it over the noise. I wince when I think of the hours of driving I did in my old pickup at freeway speeds with Slayer cranked on the 6x9s. Now I wear earplugs, which makes for more pleasant driving.

Even bicycling or walking can be noisy; I've measured over 100 dB at the road side from passing trucks. Transit is another situation where it's tempting to turn the music up too loud. Canal phones are a good idea; it wouldn't be overkill to wear over-the-ear protection as well.

Hammering nails must be pretty loud, and contains a lot of high-frequency content. Cap guns, firecrackers, gunshots. Depending on how sheltered your childhood was.
I have tried that with an SPL meter and was alarmed to find very high levels even at low speed in what is a quiet car but as you say, most would be LF noise.

Percussive sound is by far the most damaging as the ear has not got time to respond. If the sound has a slower rise time then the muscles in the inner ear relax and allow less acoustic transmission from the ear drum and connecting bones into the cochlea... a sort automatic peak limiter.
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