Hearing management

24 December 2018

FYI – these common objects are damaging your hearing

You may never hear another Beyoncé song again...

The World Health Organization estimates that two in five adults under the age of 35 are at risk for some degree of hearing loss. Get your hearing checked (find a specialist at, and let the South African Association of Audiologists (SAAA) protect your ears from the most common offenders.

Hair dryer: 85 decibels 

To do real damage, you’d have to use the appliance for eight hours per day. (Work at a hair salon? Invest in ear buds). Still, resist holding it right up to your ear or you’ll increase your risk – no matter how long you blow.

Screaming infant: 90 decibels 

Loud cries hurt your ears after roughly two hours. Your baby likely won’t bawl for that long, but colic is no joke. Leave the room for at least five minutes if the wails rage on.

Read more: Are earwax removal videos really the new pimple-popping videos?

Max headphone volume: 105 decibels

Constantly listening to Drake on full blast can cause irreparable loss. Your songs are safe for two hours at 91 decibels and four hours at 88 decibels. The free app Decibel 10th will measure your device’s output.

Live concert: 110 decibels 

The noisy venue can lead to permanent harm in less than two minutes. Pop in spongy earplugs to decrease the damage.

Read more: What actually happens when you use a cotton bud

Ambulance or fire-truck sirens: 115 decibels

Just 30 seconds of exposure per day can cause permanent loss (meaning you can no longer hear certain pitches at a normal volume). When you hear a siren approaching, cover your ears to block out up to 25 decibels.

Want more? Here’s what you really need to know about swimmer’s ear, and this is how to actually use cotton buds to clean your ears. 

This article was originally published on

Image credit: iStock 


Ask the Expert

Hearing Expert

Dr Kara Hoffman graduated from UCT in 2004, thereafter she completed her year of community service in Durban. In 2010 she completed her Masters Degree in Paediatric Aural Rehabilitation from UKZN. In 2016, she became a Doctor of Audiology through the University of Arizona (ATSU). Dr Hoffman and her partner Lauren Thompson opened a fully diagnostic audiology practice called Thompson & Hoffman Audiology Inc. In 2011 with world-class technology and equipment to be able to offer the broad public all hearing-related services including hearing testing for adults and babies, vestibular (balance) assessments and rehabilitation, industrial audiology, hearing devices, central auditory processing assessments for school-aged children, school screening, neonatal hearing screening programmes at Alberlito and Parklands Hospital, cochlear implants and other implantable devices, medicolegal assessments and advanced electroacoustic assessments of hearing. Thompson and Hoffman Audiology Inc. are based at Alberlito Hospital in Ballito, St Augustines Hospital in Durban and at 345 Essenwood Road, Musgrave. The practices are all wheelchair friendly. There are three audiologists that practice from Thompson & Hoffman – including Dr Kara Hoffman, Lauren Thompson & Minette Lister. The practice boasts professional, highly qualified, and extensive diagnostic services where all your hearing healthcare needs can be met. The additional licensing in vestibular assessment and rehabilitation, paediatric rehabilitation and cochlear implantation places this practice in one of the top specialist audiological positions in South Africa, with a wealth of experience in all clinical areas of audiology and is a very well respected and sought-after practice.

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