How loud is too loud for your ears?

- It might be the music coming from your ear buds, or even a loud sporting event that can do some damage to your hearing. Dr. Sharon Sandridge of Cleveland Clinic says protecting your hearing at sporting events is a wise move, as research shows many live events exceed safe decibel levels. 

"When you are exposing your ear to excessively loud sounds, you are doing very microscopic damage. It only takes one exposure and every time you listen to it at an increased level you are doing this damage," she says.

Dr. Sandridge says generally it's safe to listen to sounds at 85 decibels for about 8 hours - that’s the level of a landline dial tone. Sporting events and concerts often register from 95 to 110 decibels. That means your ears are safe for only one minute to one hour. Ear plugs or 'earmuffs' will keep your ears safe throughout the event.

Special earmuffs are not the same kind that keeps your ears warm in the winter; rather they reduce sound by 20 to 30 decibels. When the ears are exposed to sounds that are too loud for too long, hearing damage occurs. This type of damage ages your ears twice as fast. 

Dr. Sandridge says it's important to protect the ears from a young age and teach children by modeling good behavior. 

"The parents are the best role model. If the parents are going to protect their ears by wearing ear muffs, it's much more effective," she says.

If you're curious about decibel levels during live events, Dr. Sandridge says there are a number of sound level meter apps available that will allow you to monitor the level of sound and make sure it's safe. 

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