Let Freedom Ring, Just Not In Your Ears

The monotone hum of a refrigerator is around 40 decibels and may be hardly noticed during a normal dinner conversation that registers at 60 decibels. In contrast, the piercing sound of a jackhammer on a city street will peak around 125 decibels. At this level, you might instinctively put your fingers in your ears until you can walk far enough away.

When a high-performance military fighter jet takes off, it can produce a chest-rattling thunder of 150 decibels. While the euphemistic “sound of freedom” may be exhilarating for many air show spectators, it doesn’t take prolonged exposure at those levels to damage hearing and contribute to noise-induced hearing loss.

At the recent Spirit of St. Louis Air Show, UnitedHealthcare of Missouri volunteers handed out thousands of pairs of ear plugs to air show spectators to help promote healthy hearing habits. These were the same type of silicone-based, reusable ear plugs that UnitedHealthcare donated to fire and police departments across the county earlier this year.

“Every day sounds have a variety of intensities, frequencies and durations,” said Dr. Ravi Johar, the chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare’s Community and State Plan of Missouri. “Attending fun events like rock concerts or fireworks displays may expose people to loud sounds that can cause pain or ringing in your ears. Prolonged exposure to sounds about 85 decibels may contribute to irreversible hearing loss, which is why we decided to hand out ear plugs to people at the Spirit of St. Louis Air Show this year.”

Earlier this year, UnitedHealthcare expanded its hearing health capabilities and offerings with the launch of UnitedHealthcare Hearing, helping improve access to quality, cost-effective hearing health solutions for Americans across the country. As part of the launch, UnitedHealthcare shared TV and radio public service announcements with stations across the country to help people understand the connection between noise exposure and hearing loss.      

“It takes a community to deliver an air show and we are grateful for UnitedHealthcare’s support with volunteers and the ear plugs donations,” said John Bales, president of the Spirit of St. Louis Air Show committee. “Our goal is for all of our spectators and performers to have a safe and fun time at this event.”