April 11, 2013

Cicadas Can Cause Permanent Hearing Loss!

Cicadas are pretty darn ugly... But beyond their ugliness and making cars look pretty messed up... the sound they make is not only irritating, but potentially harmful.

Sometime the end of this April 2013, billions of large flying insects called cicadas will make their appearance along with their characteristic stridorous noise. The male cicadas are the ones making this mating noise with "tymbal" soundmakers amplified by large resonance chambers found on body.

Occurring every 17 years, this year's swarm is known as Brood II and has not been seen since 1996. Expected to cover much of the East Coast, the buzz created by these insects can reach 90 decibels... about as loud as a jackhammer. If one is right next to your ear, the sound can reach 120 decibels are equivalent to sandblasting or a loud rock concert. [see noise chart]

At 90 decibels, possible hearing damage may occur if a human ear is exposed to this level noise for more than 8 hours a day. At 120 decibels, less than 15 minutes of exposure can induce possible permanent hearing loss.

So... keep a pair of ear plugs in your purse or pants pocket and use them if the sound starts to get too loud.... or too irritating.

17 years in the making, this spring's cicada invasion generates early buzz. NBC News 4/10/13.

Cicada. Wikipedia
Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.


Gaz said...

Great informative article Dr Chang I will definetly keep some ear plugs in my purse as I have ringing sounds constantly in my ears and this just makes it worse

Unknown said...

I have lived in southern Illinois all my life. The sounds these bugs make have rang in my ears since I was a little girl. I definitely think I have hearing loss from them.

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