Noise annoys tender ears

Elise T. Chisolm

April 09, 1991|By Elise T. Chisolm

SAY WHAT? Losing what? Can't be! But I am.

But I'm not ready for a hearing aid, they tell me. And I can still brag -- I have my own teeth, I can still find a needle in a clothes dryer, and I can still remember where I put the car keys.

He says he's lost some too, hearing, that is. That seems fair! Now we can yell at one another to our hearts' content.

He says his loss is from landing planes on an aircraft carrier deck during World War II.

I say mine comes from when the kids were little and were screaming, crying or fighting while the washing machine churned, the dishwasher bubbled and the television clamored over their radios.

So now we argue over the volume on the telly; it's like the thermostat wars we've had for years.

While I was pondering who has lost more hearing or who can see the farthest, I finished reading an informative article in April's Redbook: ''Turn Down That Noise.'' For someone who has never liked loud noises such as boom boxes on beaches, hard rock in restaurants and the background noise of television football while I am trying to make a five-layer gelatin mold -- this article is right up my alley.

Here's the sound advice.

While you may be bombarded by noise all day, the good news is that noise-induced hearing loss is preventable, and they don't recommend moving to a quiet canyon or wearing ear plugs when your kids are in the house.

The article reports that in your own home you are more exposed to noise than 15 years ago. The noise makers in the home are a blender, TV, alarm clock, garbage disposal, trash compactor, washer/dryer and vacuum cleaner.

There are other culprits in your back yard: lawn mower, chain saw, maybe a leaf blower.

In the workplace, Redbook says, you are now exposed to increased technology, so there's more noise.

Although I must say computers don't make as much noise as a loud-mouth editor yelling at a reporter across a newsroom like the old days.

Redbook says: ''Many experts believe that hearing loss among young people, a syndrome they have dubbed 'old ears,' is primarily caused by loud music." I knew that. I knew that when I screamed, ''Trash day, honey!'' my 16-year-old couldn't hear me.

And here's the part you parents of teen-agers will love best: ''At rock concerts and in dance clubs, teens can be exposed to noise levels well over 100 decibels.''

And that personal stereo headsets pack a deafening punch -- they deliver sound directly to the ear and have volume controls that go as high as 115 decibels (dB).

The article warns us that if several noises in the 75 dB range sound off at once, they can add up to the dB danger zone of 80 or more, and noises in the 80 dB zone can harm your ear over time and ''those over 80 dB can cause instant symptoms.''

Noisy restaurants are in the 75 dB range.

And listen to this, if you still can: Rock concerts are in the 110-140 dB range, and a cap-gun and firecracker are way over the limit, in the 130-140 dB range.

Noises over 140 can rob you of your hearing immediately.

One audiologist quoted in the article says some toys make too much noise -- even baby squeeze toys and talking dolls. Wow!

I don't know what to tell you kids who love hard rock. I guess get your "old ears" checked, or just turn down the sound, kid.

What, you can't hear me? OK, now hear this. Take your motorcycles, stereos and video games and get out of my face.

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