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Hearing Protection Noise Resource

Simulated Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Simulated Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

What does it sound like to have hearing loss from noise, music, or sound overexposure?

These simulations give a small idea of what it’s like to have tinnitus or difficulty hearing speech and music because of noise-induced hearing loss. Please use a soft comfortable volume for listening at your discretion.

In your daily life, if you notice temporary muffling, distortion, or tinnitus after being overexposed, it means you’re at higher risk of permanent tinnitus and noise-induced hearing loss if you don’t start protecting your hearing health.

TINNITUS

This simulation of the sounds of tinnitus is from Simulated Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (1999) by WorkSafeBC. It begins with information about tinnitus. Tinnitus sounds start around 1:00.

00:00
00:00
  • The Sounds of Tinnitus 00:00

SPEECH

This playlist has simulations of what speech sounds like with mild, moderate, or severe noise-induced hearing loss. The first track is for a woman reading the story Ali Baba, first in quiet and in background noise. It’s from Simulated Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (1999) by WorkSafeBC. Note the estimate of noise-induced hearing loss in Canadians is now up to over 6 million people. It’s around 70 million people in the USA, and over a billion people worldwide.

The second track is listening to speech in background noise assuming progressive hearing loss from 90 dBA exposure over time. Simulated noise-induced hearing loss gets worse with every beep, assuming 5 more years of unprotected exposure. The third track is for progressive hearing loss listening to conversation in a car. These are from Auditory demonstrations II: Challenges in speech communication and music listening by NASA Glenn Research Center, Acoustical Testing Laboratory. 

00:00
00:00
  • Reading Ali Baba 00:00
  • Speech in Background Noise 00:00
  • Conversation in a Car 00:00

MUSIC

This is a 3 song playlist of Mozart and then Paul Simon singing “You can call me Al” and “Graceland.” This is what music sounds like with mild, moderate, and severe noise-induced hearing loss. It’s from Simulated Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (1999) by WorkSafeBC.

00:00
00:00
  • Mozart 00:00
  • You can call me Al (Paul Simon) 00:00
  • Graceland (Paul Simon) 00:00

With noise or sound overexposure, there is pitch and loudness distortion as well as hearing loss. Tinnitus is no fun either. Neither is painful decreased sound tolerance or hyperacusis, but there aren’t any simulations for that.

How can you protect your hearing health? Turn volumes down, <50% for personal listening. Wear properly fit hearing protection in harmfully loud environments. Don’t wait until you notice problems. Stop hearing damage from starting in the first place. Or music and voices will never sound the same.

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Article

Personal Audio System Use Can Harm Auditory Health

Personal Audio System Use Can Harm Auditory Health

Dr. Daniel Fink and I presented our talk titled Personal Audio System Use Can Harm Auditory Health at the 180th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America. It was presentation 3ANS8 in the June 10, 2021 Non-Occupational Noise and Hearing Loss Session.

We reviewed science showing personal listening – especially in children, teens, and young adults – is a risk factor for acquired noise-induced hearing loss and other auditory impairments. How can people listen safer in the absence of engineered sound exposure limits? Our recommendations to prevent overexposure include:

Always use <50% volume, listening as low as comfortably possible.

Use well fitting earbuds or headphones with noise cancelling or isolating features.

Turn on or turn down any safer listening device or headphone features under device settings.

Support public health authorities and political decision makers with the power to require safer sound exposure limits for personal listening system manufacturers.

If interested, the PDF below has the scientific references from our presentation.

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Updated Website

Updated Website

My professional graphic designer redesigned my website for a sleeker nonfiction look and easier navigation. I hope you like it!

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Hearing Protection

Finger Plugs Protect Hearing Health

Finger Plugs Protect Hearing Health

This International Noise Awareness Day 2021, ignore the images showing people clapping their hands over their ears to block out loud noise. This doesn’t lower sound levels. Hands are NOT earmuffs.

Instead, use your finger plugs to block out loud or uncomfortable sounds. Finger plugs lower sounds levels and protect hearing about the same as well fit earplugs.

Are we teaching kids the right way to protect their hearing health?

It’s hard when the media is so full of images showing people with useless hands over their ears instead of using their finger plugs

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New Cover for Tinnitus Toolbox Hyperacusis Handbook

New Cover for Tinnitus Toolbox Hyperacusis Handbook

I’m updating the abridged second edition ebook and paperback cover from a blue ear and swirl to a more stylized 3D darker cover by a professional graphic designer.

Hope everyone likes it as much as I do.

Please note it will take a little while for the changeover in bookstores.

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Personal Listening Case Scenario in American Family Physician Journal

Personal Listening Case Scenario in American Family Physician Journal

I was honoured to co-author this case scenario with Dr. Daniel Fink of The Quiet Coalition. The clinical topic is on making recommendations to patients on how to lower personal listening noise exposure.

The goal is preventing hearing system damage in upcoming generations of personal listening users including children, teens, and young adults.

Noise-induced hearing impairments include distorted pitch and speech perception, static (tinnitus), and/or volume control stuck on high (hyperacusis) which can happen even when hearing thresholds are still within normal limits.

These listening and communication problems have long term negative impacts on individual quality of life including music enjoyment, social, education, and work related.

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Resource

Online Resources for Tinnitus and Hyperacusis

Online Resources for Tinnitus and Hyperacusis

There are lots of free resources online for people looking for tinnitus-hyperacusis coping tools. This includes people from the normal hearing, Hearing Loss or Hard of Hearing, and Deaf communities. Scientists think tinnitus-hyperacusis come from hyperactive hearing systems. 

Tinnitus = extra sound heard.

Hyperacusis = extra loud sound heard.

Many people have both. Hyper ears come in all ages and genders. These free international tinnitus hyperacusis links have helpful info, mostly in English. I don’t recommend or endorse resources. These aren’t affiliate links so I don’t get paid if people click on them from this page. This is just an info share on websites with helpful free resources, peer support, and social media options. No sales links.

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Tinnitus Today: Building Your Own Hearing Protection Toolkit

Tinnitus Today: Building Your Own Hearing Protection Toolkit

I was pleased to write an article and help answer reader questions for the American Tinnitus Association Winter 2020 issue of Tinnitus Today.

This is an excellent issue full of research, treatment, and coping news and information. My Tinnitus Q & A is on page 30 and Building Your Own Hearing Protection Toolkit is on page 46.

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Book Science

Neuromodulation is Not a New Tinnitus Treatment

Neuromodulation is Not a New Tinnitus Treatment

A recent Scientific American article covers tinnitus treatment research that isn’t new. The treatment described is neuromodulation or bimodal neuromodulation described in the Body Therapy chapter of Tinnitus Toolbox Hyperacusis Handbook. This is a noninvasive paired stimulation approach using electric impulses to the face. The research is still weak with no control groups, no tinnitus perceptual results, and no brain imaging. The researchers seem to be moving towards development, manufacturing, and sales.

Does neuromodulation work better than a placebo or sugar pill? Still don’t know.

Researchers didn’t use a control group for no treatment or placebo treatment. They had three subject groups try neuromodulation at three different settings. Results were based on subjective reactions on how their tinnitus sounded, e.g. changes in reported loudness.

Strong science includes a control group that gets a placebo treatment. They get set up and think they’re getting treatment but no treatment happens. With the placebo effect, people can report a big improvement when they didn’t actually get any treatment. In strong evidence-based studies, researchers and subjects don’t know who got a real treatment and who got the placebo so results aren’t biased.

These scientists didn’t report perceptual changes like tinnitus loudness matching or pitch matching pre and post treatment. This is stronger evidence than reported reactions.

The researchers still haven’t done brain imaging to objectively confirm any brain changes pre and post treatment. This would be the strongest tinnitus treatment evidence. Brain imaging can objectively prove if any brain changes happen from treatment.

If reported improved reactions were supported by perceptual testing and brain imaging, this would be better news. We still don’t objectively know how helpful neuromodulation will be in a clinic setting.

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Noise Resource

Safer Personal Listening

With personal listening, it has never been easier to listen to music or audio content whenever and wherever people want.

But…science shows personal listening is associated with permanent progressive hearing health damage. The hearing system falls out-of-tune, and there is distortion for pitch and loudness perception.This means people can have tinnitus, hyperacusis or decreased sound tolerance, and speech understanding problems, especially in noisy environments. This is called hidden hearing loss, because hearing problems hide behind “normal” hearing on an audiogram. With repeated sound overexposure, these problems can get worse, and permanent noise-induced hearing loss develops.

There are currently no limits on devices, earbuds, or headphone volume output that are strict enough to be safe for personal listening (e.g. 70 dB-75 dB sound exposure limits). It’s up to each individual to limit volume to protect their hearing, music appreciation, and social interactions.

Safer Personal Listening Guidelines

Always use personal listening volume below 50%, assuming you have typical or normal hearing. Scientists believe this is likely safe for hearing health whether you use headphones, earbuds, stock earbuds, noise cancelling earbuds or headphones, or loudness limiting headphones.

Earbuds and headphones with noise cancelling or noise isolating features are safer, because users can listen at a lower volume even when in ambient or background noise environments. These work best for background noise or hum from transit, office noise, or similar situations.

Earbuds with deeper fit in the ear canals are safer than flat stock earbuds because volume doesn’t need to be turned up as loud to listen comfortably, even if earbuds are not specifically advertised as sound isolating.

If you have to turn the volume up above 50% to hear at a noisy job (e.g. construction, mills, manufacturing), it is better to use hearing protection like earplugs or earmuffs. Hearing protection is available with built-in wired or wireless radio, music, or personal listening connectivity for safe listening at work while screening out harmful noise.

 

 

Maybe one day, public health authorities will require sound exposure limits for personal listening system manufacturers. Imagine if bicycles had 10 gears, but if you went above 5th gear, pieces of your toes were cut off. Manufacturers would probably have to fix the problem. Maybe one day protecting hearing health will be valued as much as preventing other bodily injuries. And an inherently unsafe consumer product will be made safer. I love personal listening. It would be nice for everyone to enjoy the benefits without sacrificing their hearing health. Even if they just want to listen louder for their favourite song.

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