CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- You are taking your health seriously -- your heart, lungs and legs are in great shape. That's good.
However, have you thought about your ears? Did you consider you may be destroying your hearing while strengthening your physique? It's true. Studies show that fitness-class settings have been added to a number of other environments that may potentially hurt your ears.
Noise-induced hearing loss is damage to your ears caused by exposure to sounds that are too loud and/or that last a long time. No longer is this limited to industrial workplaces and rock concerts. Researchers are paying more attention to the prevalence of NIHL in your Zumba class and other music-driven classes.
To better understand how sound can adversely affect hearing, we must first understand that sound levels are measured in decibels (dB). The American Heritage Science Dictionary defines a decibel as: a unit used to measure the power of a signal, such as an electrical signal or sound, relative to some reference level. As a measure of sound intensity, a zero-decibel reference is stipulated to be the lowest level audible to the human ear.
How loud is too loud?
When the dB level is too high, it can lead to permanent hearing loss and tinnitus. Damage is usually cumulative and not only is it irreversible, but it's also not immediately detectable. Studies have shown that a typical music-driven class ranges between 81-95 dB and has a peak range between 128-144 dB. Sounds that register 110 dB for more than one minute may cause permanent damage to your hearing. Here are the dB levels of a few common sounds: