If you’re like most Americans, you already have a valuable tool close at hand that can help you protect your ability to hear: your smartphone. With the right application installed, your smartphone can be used to check whether surrounding sounds are loud enough to endanger your hearing. The best apps to measure noise levels provide accurate results and make it easy for you to tell when a loud sound is actually too loud.
The Sound of a Health Hazard
Sounds surround people almost constantly, but many people don’t realize that some of these sounds can pose a hazard to their health. Noise-induced hearing loss occurs when exposure to loud sounds damages the delicate inner structures of the ear. Sometimes this damage is the result of continual, long-term exposure to loud sounds; however, even a single encounter with a loud sound can cause harm. Exposure and volume both play a role in determining when a sound is hazardous. The louder the sound, the shorter the amount of time that a person can experience it before their ability to hear is negatively impacted.
How Loud Is Too Loud?
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, lengthy or repeated exposure to noises at or above 85 decibels can result in hearing loss. What does 85 decibels sound like? The dull roar of heavy urban traffic measures around 85 decibels, motorcycles tend to measure around 95 decibels, and sirens generally measure around 120 decibels.
Preventing Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
The first step in preventing noise-induced hearing loss is recognizing the danger posed by loud sounds. This allows you to take steps to protect yourself from those sounds. Fortunately, today’s technology makes measuring sound levels a cinch. According to the Pew Research Center, some 77 percent of Americans now own smartphones, and apps that can transform these digital devices into accurate sound level meters are readily available. So when you’re concerned about the noise levels in your environment, pull out your smartphone to measure the volume.
If you’re in an environment with potentially harmful noise levels, you have a few options. The simplest option is to leave the environment, of course, but this isn’t always possible or desired. If you would prefer to stay, wear hearing protection to shield your ears from the noise. You could use ear plugs or ear muffs, which are available as standard products and customized devices. Hearing protection is especially important if you work in a loud environment or engage in any hobbies involving loud sounds. For example, all musicians, hunters, recreational shooters, industrial workers, and members of law enforcement should wear protection when facing an auditory threat.
The Best Apps to Measure Noise Levels
What are the best apps to measure noise levels? A list offered by Healthy Hearing suggests options for both Apple iOS and Google Android platforms:
Too Noisy Pro
A user-friendly app designed to measure noise levels in places where groups of children gather, Too Noisy Pro is a simple way to be proactive about shielding the occupants of classrooms and daycares from noises that are excessively loud. With an interface that is both simple and engaging, this app gets a great response from kids and allows teachers and caregivers to adjust the sensitivity to suit their situation. Too Noisy Pro is available for $3.99 at the iTunes Store and the Google Play Store.
Would you like a free app that converts your smartphone into a precalibrated sound level meter that is both accurate and portable? Decibel X can do just that. With an intuitive user interface, plenty of features for measuring the intensity of nearby sound, and a standard measurement range that extends from 30 decibels to 130 decibels, it’s a powerful, easy-to-use tool. This highly rated app can be downloaded at no charge from the iTunes Store and the Play Store.
NIOSH Sound Level Meter
Created by the experts at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the NIOSH Sound Level Meter benefits both workers and researchers. It raises awareness about workplace noise levels by making it a breeze for workers to measure sound levels and provides noise exposure parameters so that they can make smart decisions about limiting their exposure to reduce occupational noise-induced hearing loss. It also collects data about noise exposure that researchers can utilize in their studies. Only available for Apple users, this easy-to-use app can be found in the iTunes Store.
Designed to calibrate itself to the device to which it is downloaded, Sound Meter provides visible evidence of sound intensity levels with red, yellow, and green indicators for safety and a gauge that delivers more specific information. Although it’s not the right choice for anyone who needs to measure very high noise levels (its maximum decibel levels are limited to 90 decibels by some devices), this well-rated app is a suitable tool for people who want to keep an eye on the general sound levels that they encounter throughout their day. It is only available to Android users, who can find it for free in the Play Store.
Installing one of the best apps to measure noise levels on your smartphone can help you gain a better understanding of how loud is too loud and how often you encounter sound levels that might put your hearing in danger.
If you have any concerns about noise-induced hearing loss or would like to have your hearing checked, contact Sound Relief Hearing Center, which has locations in Colorado and Arizona. With our unparalleled excellence in the hearing industry, our dedication to patient satisfaction, and our commitment to helping people control and conquer their hearing issues, you can count on Sound Relief Hearing Center for support and assistance. To learn more about us, please browse our website, visit our YouTube channel, or give us a call at 720-259-9962. You can also schedule an appointment online to meet with one of our audiologists. We look forward to hearing from you!