People have been reminded that some everyday household appliances can permanently damage hearing.
Specsavers has revealed that while many people think their hearing may be better protected in lockdown and away from typical loud outdoor sounds such as loud bars and music events, many sounds in our homes and gardens are in fact potentially damaging to our hearing.

Specsavers audiologist, Orla Walsh, says: 'With gigs and festivals cancelled and bars and restaurants closed, it's easy to think that we are no longer exposing ourselves to loud noises, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Listening to any sound at high volume – which is classed as more than 85 decibels – can cause permanent hearing loss, tinnitus, or both."

While most of us are aware that using earphones on high volume could cause damage to our hearing, we aren’t as savvy when it comes to other household appliances, such as lawnmowers, could damage hearing, as well as hairdryers (95db), blenders (90db) and vacuum cleaners (85db).

All are possible hearing loss culprits, if exposed to over a prolonged period. Doorbells and electric shavers, which measure 80db on average, are also noises to be mindful of, along with washing machines (75db).

Woman preparing smoothie in blender

Out in the garden, using a lawnmower can be particularly detrimental to our hearing, as typically they sound out at 110db.

Orla says: "To put this into context, normal levels of conversation are about 65db and things like concerts can reach 110db, so when using a lawnmower, it is best practice to wear ear defenders or hearing protection. Also, never listen to music above 60% of full volume. Cancelling out background noise by turning up the volume can cause long-term damage to your hearing and conditions such as tinnitus, which is irreversible." 

She adds: ‘Sounds are measured on a logarithmic scale, so an increase from 80db to 90db doesn’t mean that the sound has increased by 10% but rather that it has increased tenfold. In other words, a sound at 90db is ten times louder than a sound at 80db."

While you can’t control the volume on a lot of these appliances, you can reduce your exposure to them by limiting the amount of time you spend using them.

"This is particularly important for those that have a sound level over 105db, as anything above this will begin to damage your hearing," warns Orla.

Specsavers stores have now reopened, with new hygiene measures to keep customers and staff safe, with extended opening hours where possible. You can make an appointment to see an audiologist in store or by video if you prefer. specsavers.ie