December is the cruelest month, basketball fans -- in more ways than one. Witness this news out of Kansas. Yes, Kansas: Loud basketball games can often generate deafening noise that result in real hearing loss. So says Wichita State University audiologist Ray Hull, who found that gymnasiums and arenas are built like reverberating echo chambers that can wreak havoc on ears by amplifying noise to dangerous levels.
Hull says the intensity level at some basketball games -- even at middle and high school games -- can reach 115 decibels. "We can stand that noise without permanent damage to our hearing for approximately seven and half minutes," he explained. "Those who are most susceptible to damage to their hearing are those who are sitting, for example, near the pep band or, of course for those in the pep band, because intensity levels can reach 125 to 130 decibels. At that intensity level, you are susceptible to permanent damage to your hearing after about a minute and a half of exposure."
Noise-reducing plugs, available in most grocery or sporting goods stores, would provide the protection necessary to prevent this kind of injury. (Read more)