Too Loud! For Too Long! | Vital Signs |CDC

Too Loud! For Too Long! | Vital Signs |CDC

Loud noises damage hearing

Updated July 28, 2017

Hearing loss is costly.

The cost for the first year of hearing loss treatment in older adults is projected to increase more than 500% from $8 billion in 2002 to an estimated $51 billion in 2030.

SOURCE: Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2010

Hearing loss from loud noise can be prevented.

About 70% of people exposed to loud noise never or seldom wear hearing protection.

SOURCE: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2011-2012

People with hearing loss.

Graph showing how with the increase of age, the percent of people who are not able to hear high pitched sounds increases.

Age Bracket, years












How hearing loss occurs.

Common noises can be loud.

  • 70dB (decibels) Washing machine
  • 80dB Traffic noise inside a car
  • 90dB Leaf blower  2 hours can cause damage
  • 100dB Sporting Event  14 minutes can cause damage
  • 110dB Rock concert  2 minutes can cause damage
  • 120dB Siren  1 minute can cause damage
  • 85dB is the approximate point at which extended exposure can cause hearing damage.

How noise causes permanent hearing damage.

Graphic showing silhouette of a man using a blower on a yard. The sound of the blower is shown penetrating a big ear, going to the inner ear to the right of the man, and causing hear loss. Images of  healthy hair cells and damaged hair cells are shown to the right of the big ear.

Sound vibrates the eardrum and tiny bones in the ear which in turn vibrate the hair cells in the inner ear. Exposure to loud noises over time can permanently damage the hair cells, causing hearing loss.

  • Sound
    • Healthy Hair Cells
    • Damaged Hair Cells

Hearing trouble muffles other people’s speech.

Graphic showing what a person says and how it is misinterpreted by another person who has trouble hearing.

What was said:
“I asked Skip if he felt sick.”

What was heard:
“I a___ __i_ i_

_e _el_ _i_.”

SOURCE: CDC Vital Signs, February 2017