Practice safe listening to protect your hearing

March 15, 2022
4 min read


Sarah Wakefield, AuD


As we age, gradual hearing loss is common. In fact, almost half the people in the United States older than age 65 have some degree of hearing loss. World Hearing Day was recently recognized on March 3, 2022, with the theme “To hear for life, listen with care.” The theme highlights the importance of safe listening as a means of maintaining good hearing throughout a lifetime.

What is safe listening?

Many common causes of hearing loss can be prevented, including hearing loss caused by exposure to loud sounds. The volume of sounds, listening duration, and frequency of exposure to loud sounds all affect hearing. The higher the level of sound and the longer the duration, the greater the risk of hearing loss.

  • You can safely listen to a sound level of 80 decibels for up to 40 hours a week.
  • If the sound level is 90 decibels, the safe listening time reduces to 12.5 hours per week.
  • A soft whisper measures about 10 decibels, a doorbell 80 decibels, a hairdryer 100 decibels, and an airplane taking off 140 decibels.
  • Even a one-time exposure to extremely loud sound can damage your inner ear cells and cause hearing loss.

How to protect your hearing

  • Keep the volume down by setting your device’s volume level to no more than 60 percent of the maximum volume level.
  • Use well-fitted, noise-canceling headphones to reduce the need to raise the volume in noisy situations.
  • In noisy places, use ear protectors such as earplugs.
  • Always stay away from sources of sound, such as loudspeakers and noisy machinery.
  • Limit the time you spend engaged in noisy activities and give your ears a break frequently from loud sounds. This helps the sensory cells inside your ears to recover.

Contact an audiology professional if you have persistent ringing in your ears or difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds or following conversations. At Mount Nittany Health, we offer audiology services including complete diagnostic testing, hearing screenings, hearing aid services, and ear protection for all ages. Call our practice office at 814.234.6190 to schedule an appointment with one of our audiology specialists.

About The Author

“Hearing loss impacts each person differently,” shares Dr. Wakefield. “It’s important to listen to each patient and fully understand their situation in order to best treat and manage their hearing healthcare needs.”

Dr. Wakefield earned her bachelor’s degree in communication disorders from The Pennsylvania State University and her doctorate in audiology from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She is a member of the American Academy of Audiology and the American Auditory Society.
“To know that I’ve been able to make a positive difference in a patient’s quality of life is what this work is all about,” Dr. Wakefield says. “It’s what makes it all worth it.”

Outside of the office, Dr. Wakefield enjoys gardening and practicing yoga. She especially appreciates time spent with family, including her husband and their daughter

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