By Dr. Esther Fogel
At the last few weddings I attended, I couldn’t hear the person speaking next to me over the music. Blaring speakers and amplified instruments typify the majority of Jewish weddings and bar and bat mitzvahs today, while the risks to hearing remain generally unknown.
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) affects people of all ages and is considered one of the most common occupational hazards in the U.S. As many as 17 percent of teens aged 12 to 19 are thought to have early signs of NIHL. Luckily, it is also preventable, especially when loud events, such as weddings, can be anticipated. The risks of NIHL depend on both the intensity and the duration of the noise — the louder the music, the less time it takes to cause damage.
Noise above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss, and the average wedding hall is likely playing music between 110 and 120 decibels. The more weddings, concerts, and other loud events you attend, the greater the risk of damage over time.
Since there’s a good chance the wedding you’re about to attend poses a risk to your hearing, take protective measures to minimize it. Purchase a pair of foam or silicone earplugs from a local drugstore for you and your loved ones, or pick up some complimentary pairs from our office — Comprehensive Audiology. Consider customized earplugs for more comfortable, aesthetically appealing, reusable protection that preserves the quality of the music. Be sure to bring noise-cancelling earmuffs for babies, which, thanks to Earmuffs Gemach (email@example.com or @earmuffsgemach), can be easily obtained locally.
Because ear protection only lowers the volume of surrounding noise by 15 to 30 decibels, make sure to sit at least 10 feet away from speakers, take breaks in quiet areas, and limit the overall duration of your exposure to the music. If the simcha is yours, speak to the band about keeping the volume within safe ranges. If you have a history of attending loud events, be sure to come in for an evaluation. Early detection of even minimal hearing damage can make all the difference in treating it. By following these safety precautions and educating your children about these preventative measures, you can be sure to enjoy your upcoming event joyously and safely.
Comprehensive Audiology is located at 261 Broadway in Lynbrook. Appointments can be made by calling 516-387-4000 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Facebook, Linkedin, Google, or Instagram @comprhensive_audiology, or visit ComprehensiveAudiology.com.