Are NIOSH And OSHA Guidelines Still Valid When You Have Tinnitus or Some Degree of Hearing Loss?

Discussion in 'Support' started by juliob, Sep 27, 2022.

    1. juliob

      juliob Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Antidepressants / Loud Sound Exposure
      Do you think that people with tinnitus or hearing loss are more fragile than "normal" people in the sense that continuous 91 dB for 2 hours is a NO-NO for them despite it being allowed in the table NIOSH table below?

      NIOSH: Reducing Noise Exposure: Guidance & Regulations

      I don't know what to think about this. My tinnitus was almost surely caused by Sertraline, and when I updosed to 150 mg, a second tone appeared. I have mild hearing loss, but somehow loud places (not super loud) don't seem to impact my tinnitus.

      There is a karaoke place that I like to go where it's a continuous 85 dB volume on average (I took it from a decibel meter lol), but like 90 dB or 95 dB when you are on stage (a few minutes). I wonder if it would be reckless to not use earplugs. Besides, singing with earplugs sucks due to the occlusion effect.

      What are your views and experiences on this?
      • Good Question Good Question x 1
    2. Marshall

      Marshall Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Not sure/virus/noise trauma/cumulative noise damage
      I think it’s subjective.
      • Agree Agree x 1
    3. Armin

      Armin Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2011 - 2017 - 07/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      last one noise induced
      I am wondering the same.

      My problem is that when I am wearing custom made earplugs, I am always hearing my high frequency screeching tinnitus, even if the environment noise is at 90 dB (like plane, underground, bus, streets).

      Hearing my tinnitus makes me completely frustrated. And I am focussing on it, and cannot be distracted from it. This makes my vicious circle worse as I get in deep panic and frustration.

      Could we risk (my tinnitus is noise induced) it not using hearing protection on planes / trains / on the street, thus not focusing on the tinnitus, to get relief?

      Or would it be safe /safer - for instance on a plane - to insert the custom made earplugs and place headphones over it to listen to some nature noise?

      Or use noise cancelling headphones on a plane to play some very soft nature noise over it?

      Especially Micheal Leigh's opinion would be interesting, including any recommendation how to behave in noisy environments.

      Thank you a lot!
      • Hug Hug x 1
      • Good Question Good Question x 1
    4. Bill_

      Bill_ Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      1. loud Concert | 2. loud club | 3. tympanometry
      Supposedly they are but when it comes to tinnitus a lot of things that „aren’t supposed to happen“ actually do happen and you never know when or what it will be.

      I had a balloon pop in my car and I was 100% sure that it must have aggravated my tinnitus but it did not.

      I also went to an event where they played some fairly loud music (96 dB max, average was around 90 dB) and it did worsen my tinnitus.

      You just need to find the sweet spot between being cautious enough and not leaving your home anymore.

      I always carry two different types of earplugs with me:

      Silicone earplugs (like Mack‘s) for environments <90 dB. I usually start feeling uncomfortable when the average dB level is above 78-79 ish and I will use earplugs when I have to stay in that environment for more than a few minutes. I like silicone earplugs for this scenario because they do no irritate the ear canal but still offer ~22 dB attenuation.

      Whenever I find myself in an environment where there is noise over 90 dB I switch to foam earplugs with 35 dB attenuation. These offer much more protection but also can cause ear problems when used too often.

      Hope that helps!
      • Agree Agree x 1
    5. whatdidyousay

      whatdidyousay Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud volumes
      One thing I was wondering is if NIOSH applies to a single occurence. It sounds like the charts are more for workers who are exposed to loud noises year round like construction workers, landscapers, sound mixers, or whatever. You get the idea. I worry about the times I'm caught off guard like sirens, alarms, or even nearby gunshots. In the city you can pretty much hear all of the above at times.

      Some things are just obscenely loud. I measured my SteamVac carpet machine at 100 dB and I used to use it every month or so for about an hour at a time, which is way beyond what NIOSH recommends as a safe level. My ears have really taken a beating over the years from loud noises but probably the most from concerts and earphones/headphones. One thing I'm also bad at is plugging my ears when there are loud noises and I'm in public or around company, since I tend to get self-conscious in the moment.
    6. kingsfan

      kingsfan Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      A town near you
      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      turning everything up to 11
      As my tinnitus continues to worsen despite religious use of hearing protection, I have implemented the following guidelines for myself:
      • If the volume is over 70 dBa - wear my 26 SNR custom earplugs.
      • If there is potential for the volume to spike over 80 dBa - wear 32 NRR foam earplugs.
      • Avoid anything over 85 dBa for an extended period of time (you can't realistically avoid short, impulse sounds, but I try not to stay in 85 dBa environments for longer than I have to.)
      For example: I'll drive with 26 SNR earplugs due to highway road noise being roughly 70-75 dBa with louder spikes while passing semis, motorcycles, and loud trucks. I keep earmuffs beside me in case I encounter an emergency vehicle with its sirens on. When stopping at a store or gas station, I will switch to 32 NRR foam earplugs before exiting the car because there is usually very loud impulse sounds in parking lots and gas stations. If I wasn't so self conscious wearing bright green earmuffs, I'd probably wear those too.

      Also, during my trip from the West Coast to the Midwest, I was concerned of prolonged exposure to road noise, so I wore noise-cancelling headphones off and on during the drive.

      I used to be much more lax and also wore earplugs of less strength, but I've tightened it down as I've found it doesn't seem to be working for me.

      TL;DR: I don't think NIOSH guidelines apply to those with hearing loss and tinnitus, but need stricter guidelines.
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