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What are Decibels and How Do They Work?


Here is a brief rundown on what decibels are, how they work, and what they mean for your ear health.

Chances are, you’ve heard the term decibel used to describe a sound but you haven’t known exactly what it means. Here is a brief rundown on what decibels are, how they work, and what they mean for your ear health.

What is a Decibel?

Decibels are used to measure how loud a sound is. The human ear is very sensitive and can pick up a wide range of sounds, from the softest paper rustle to the loudest concert. The volume difference between the two is absolutely monumental, so scientists and doctors needed a term to describe it. Using the decibel scale, 0 dB is the closest to total silence we can get. Something 10 times more powerful than that is 10 dB. A noise 100 times more powerful is 20 dB. A sound that is 1,000 times more powerful is 30dB (and so on).


Example Decibel Ratings

Wondering how loud things that you’ve encountered are? Here are some noises you might have heard and how loud they really are:

  • A whisper 15 dB
  • Normal conversation 60 dB
  • A lawnmower 90 dB
  • A car horn 110 dB
  • A rock concert 120 dB
  • A firecracker 140 dB

The further you are from the sound, the lower the power of the decibel rating is.

Why Do Decibels Matter?

Any noise with a decibel rating about 85 dB can cause hearing loss. Hearing loss as a result of loud noises typically comes as a result of the sound itself, the decibel rating of the sound, and how long you are listening to the sound. How can you tell a sound is above 85 dB? If you need to raise your voice to talk to someone next to you or in front of you. Any sound with a decibel rating above 140 dB will cause immediate damage to your ears and potentially pain.


Bay Area Audiology Has Hearing Solutions for You

If you are concerned about hearing loss or seeking hearing evaluations, tinnitus evaluations, or hearing aid assistance, our doctors are ready to help. We are passionate about helping all of our patients improve their quality of life through better hearing. We also believe that patient education is critical, so you won’t be lead through endless sales pitches at our office. If you are interested in hearing how we can help you hear even better, contact us at (410) 838-4327 or online. For more hearing tips and articles, follow Bay Area Audiology on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

This entry was posted on Thursday, February 16th, 2017 at 10:41 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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