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JLeslie's avatar

Am I the only one who thinks most everything is louder than 25+ years ago?

Asked by JLeslie (46157 points ) December 31st, 2013

I carry earplugs with me everywhere. I wear them for zumba, in theatres, at nightclubs, at bars, and I wish I had had them last time I was at an amusement park. Nightclubs/danceclubs have always been loud, same with concerts, but theatres (both live and cinema) and some zumba teachers, and other venues I find it just absurd how loud the volume is turned up. I would never want my child to work at Abercombrie and Fitch; the music is so loud I would worry about her hearing. Same with working in loud bars and clubs. I went dancing almost every weekend for a few years there, but it doesn’t compare to all night in that loud music several nights a week.

I already have some slight hearing damage so I try to be careful, but it is just ridiculous. OSHA I would assume has some rules about this in the workplace, but I have often wondered if there should be some sort of rules for outside of workplace. My standard would still be pretty loud. I’m not looking for everything to be in normal voice. Or, maybe there has to be a warning? My girlfriend who is 40 had no idea loud music causes hearing loss, how can that be?

What are your thoughts?

I’m in America by the way, and this seems to be the case everywhere I visit in my country.

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26 Answers

Smitha's avatar

Good to hear it isn’t just me. Loud noises in general upsets me a lot, especially outdoor, urban noise. I too have hearing damage. I feel now we are living in a more noisy and selfish country. I can see the problem only getting worse as time goes on. The next generation’s hearing will be even worse with loud music and they will end up shouting more and turning their music up louder to compensate. At times I really wish I lived in the country.

JLeslie's avatar

@Smitha I wasn’t even considering urban noises, but I agree a noisy city after days of it wears on me. We don’t have much control over some of the sounds in the outside environment, but we certainly have control over the volume dial at the movie theater and zumba class and most recently I was at Bush Gardens and one of the shows was so loud my husband and I walked out. A few years ago I took my parents to see Wicked, because I loved it so much when I saw it in Toronto, and when I took them to the Memphis Orpheum to see it the sound was so loud it ruined it for me from the first song. It actually made me feel ill at ease.

rojo's avatar

WHAT?

JLeslie's avatar

LOL! ^^^^

hearkat's avatar

In general, I agree. You mention OSHA for outside of the home, but consider this: almost everywhere you mention, someone is working in that environment. I’d like to have my earplugs with me all the time, but that would mean carrying a purse, which I loathe. I have custom moulded musician’s earplugs that have interchangeable filters for variable levels of attenuation: -9dB, -15dB and -25dB. I try to remember them when we go to blockbuster movies, music performances, weddings, and such. I find that the less advanced in the profession the performers are, the louder the sound is, so local plays and concerts seem worse than bigger, more professional productions. I wore them to one Zumba class, because the 50-something instructor, who was great at Zumba, but who had obviously damaged her ears after years of blasting the music in aerobics classes.

What bothers me just as much, even though it isn’t as damaging to the ears, is all the noise in restaurants. Usually there is background music, but that fairly low in the places we go to. Mostly, it’s just the VERY LOUD CHATTER of the other patrons. We can’t hear each other across the table without shouting, and so we just don’t bother to talk. People have become so self-absorbed, as Smitha mentioned, that no one uses their “inside voices” anymore. There seems to be less and less courtesy for others in the world, and that is what bothers me the most about noise pollution.

If I had a dime for every time I’d heard that joke, @rojo, I could retire at 50…

JLeslie's avatar

@hearkat How much are the musician earplugs and where do I buy them? Also, can you recomend a particular brand of earphones (is that what they are called? Like headphones, but they block noise) that you know to be comfortable and effective?

I think restaurants are noisier now also. When I walk into a restaurant hoping for a relaxing meal and it is loud as soon as I walk in I find it stressful. It’s part of the reason I like to eat al fresco when possible. I don’t know if restaurants just aren’t bothering with muffling noise anymore in their designs for the decor? Or, maybe restaurants now are much bigger, and the large amount of patrons increases the total noise.

As far as OSHA, at least in movie theatres the employees are not in the theatres where the noise is most of the time. The zumba teachers have total control over how loud the music is’ they subject themselves themseves to the loud noise. I do have one teacher that has the music at a normal volume. Otherwise, yes, I worry about the employees, like my A&F example. I seriously have though about reporting A&F when it is ridiculously loud.

hearkat's avatar

http://www.etymotic.com/ This is the company that makes the musician’s filters. They also have some high-end earphones. I do not use earphones often, so I can not recommend specific brands. I’m sure there are questions on Fluther about them, but if none have been asked in about a year, ask again, since they come out with new products all the time- especially going into the gift-giving season. You can have custom earmolds made for insert earphones, too. My musician’s molds actually fit on the earphones I have. The company linked above started a program where you can have custom earmolds made for their earphones for a flat $100, which is a good price. You have to go to someone listed on their website, though.

The custom musician earmolds are made at an earmold lab, and nearly any Audiologist can take the impressions and order them for you. The price for the earmolds with one set of filters should be around $150–200. They are not refundable, since they are custom made; but most earmold labs have a 3–6 month window for us to send the ear olds back for a remake if there are fit issues. Disposable Musician’s plugs with 20dB attenuation are often available at music stores where they sell instruments, and the Ear-Plane plugs for air travel (which are available in most drug stores) are disposable and have similar filters to the disposable musician’s plugs, and also attenuate about 20dB.

JLeslie's avatar

@hearkat The airplane ones are basically what I use all the time. Does insurance ever cover the more expensive earmolds if you have documented hearing loss already? The worst exposure I have to loud noise is at the race track. I like the idea of them being less visible though. I assume the molded ones are less visible? Of course, the ones I have been using lately are neon orange on an orange string. Those are from a track. It is convenient to have them on a string if they are taken in and out a lot.

livelaughlove21's avatar

I’ve honestly never thought about it. I notice if it’s particularly loud somewhere, just because I have to yell to be heard, but it doesn’t bug me enough to use earplugs or to worry about hearing loss. The only time loud music bugs me is when I’m in a bad mood. Or when I pull up next to a car and I can hear their bass over my own semi-loud radio. And I thank my lucky stars I don’t have to be in the car with the idiot that’s probably proud of that.

ragingloli's avatar

No, you are just getting old, and everything makes you cranky and you start thinking that everything was better in the “good old days”.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, the world is louder, no doubt.
It’s been a big adjustment for me this year moving from a very quiet rural property to city limits.
It s still pretty quiet around here except for more sirens and bigger, louder trucks, but what I hate most of all is RAP MUSIC blaring from rude peoples cars all over the place. I was standing in line waiting for the ATM at my bank yesterday and some little weenie in the parking lot was playing his rap crap at about volume 10 while waiting on a friend.

I almost yelled at him to turn that shit down, but, I was tired and just chose to suffer through it for a couple minutes. :-(

hearkat's avatar

@JLeslie – At the racetrack, the best protection is a solid earplug or over-the-ear muffs that will attenuate ~29dB. The best protection is to combine both of the above. Medical insurance does not pay for ear plugs or hearing aids. At best, if someone needs them for work, they might get a tax write-off, but paying less than $200 for something that will last for years is really not much.

@livelaughlove21 – Sound doesn’t need to be loud enough to be uncomfortable in order for it to be potentially damaging, it just means that it takes a bit longer duration of exposure for the damage to occur. Noise damage is permanent and cumulative over the span of one’s lifetime. Hairdressers, seamstresses, dentists, and housekeepers have occupations that we don’t consider “loud” but are indeed loud enough for them to incur noise-induced hearing loss from the length of exposure. We are seeing teens and young adults with noise damage from turning their earbuds/headphones up in order to drown out the ambient noise.

JLeslie's avatar

@hearkat Insurance doesn’t pay for hearing aids?! That is horrible.

@ragingloli Some of my discomfort it is age. However, I really think here in America, objectively, the volume is turned up louder than before.

hearkat's avatar

@JLeslie – They are considered “not medically necessary” by Medicare, and most insurers follow Medicare’s lead.

JLeslie's avatar

That’s disgusting to me. Do the hearing aid companies make a fortune? Do they charge way way more than it costs to make them?

livelaughlove21's avatar

@hearkat I didn’t say anything to the contrary. I just said I don’t worry about it.

JLeslie's avatar

Never mind, I looked it up. There is basically an oligopoly and there are patents and the few companies making hearing aids are basically in collusion. They make a tremendous amount of profit. Drives me crazy. Bothers me as much as the company that has the exclusive on the breast cancer gene testing.

hearkat's avatar

@livelaughlove21 – ...and I didn’t say that you had said anything to the contrary, so there is no need to react defensively. I had even considered putting an FYI lead-in or trying to reword it, because it wasn’t directed at you, but more in response to your comment to further the conversation in general. I was simply providing further information to suggest that you – and anyone else reading the post – might want to be more mindful about it (“worry” implies anxiety in my mind, so I prefer not to use that term).

livelaughlove21's avatar

@hearkat Who’s defensive? When someone specifically addresses me, I assume they’re responding to something I said.

hearkat's avatar

@JLeslie – I can’t say whether there is or is not an oligopoly on hearing aids. There are basically a handful of manufacturers making them; and yes, they mark-up the devices a lot from what I can tell. However, I also know that the research and development in getting scientific peer-reviewed evidence behind these miniaturized, high-tech devices is not cheap. I don’t know enough specifics about how they reinvest their profits to comment on whether they handle it ethically or not. I don’t think it is at the level of big pharmaceuticals yet, though I’d guess that is what their business models are structure on. I can tell you that for those of us who dispense the instruments, our markup barely covers costs of personnel and test equipment, and I personally sure am not earning more since I added hearing aid dispensing to my scope of practice. I was strictly diagnostic for the first 12 years out of grad school.

hearkat's avatar

@livelaughlove21 – Perhaps I read something in your response to me that wasn’t there.
I apologize if I misunderstood your intent of your second comment as a misunderstanding of my intent in my first comment addressed to you.

hearkat's avatar

Well, Audicus is trying a direct-to-consumer sales model, which is a big thorn in the side for my profession. It doesn’t account for the fact that the patient is getting 2-to-3 years of no-charge professional service to rehabilitation and adjustments, and often batteries and other freebies that are also included in the ‘retail’ markup. Most of my services are provided at no charge, except for what insurance will pay for the audiological evaluation, and when someone buys hearing aids. I go days and even weeks without charges, but the practice still has to pay my salary and benefits, as well as the equipment purchases and maintenance. Some people are proposing that we “unbundle” the cost of hearing aid services to lower the instrument prices, and then charge the patients office visit fees for any follow-up. That model would have its pros and cons, though. It’s going to be a rough decade for our industry. Private, medical-based practices are being undersold by big-box retailers and internet sellers. Patients are going to choose based on product price and not provider service, and they will be dissatisfied with their products and the negative stigma will perpetuate.

JLeslie's avatar

I noticed it was a direct to consumer hearing aid. I think the bundle or not to bundle dilemma is a tough one. Maybe it should be one free follow up visit included and then pay afterwards?

hearkat's avatar

Right now there is too much in-flux with the ACA and other issues within the profession, but in time I suspect there will be industry-wide changes as the baby-boomers get older and make demands. If it were up to me, I’d do 3 no-charge follow-up visits, because it really is a rehabilitation process and can take time to get used to. But there is great variability in the amount of care people need beyond the first month or two. Some people are in my office every month, and others I only see when they need batteries or supplies. Right now, we have to try to stay competitive with the big boxes but keep our heads above water. I really feel sorry for the Audiologists running their own private practices.

mattbrowne's avatar

Just compare being inside a car 25 years ago. Today it’s far more quiet.

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