I know what 140 Decibels of sound feel like. I used to be a hardened clubber in my first-world youth, knowing people in the music and clubbing industries. I was also educated by the police and first aid crews who visited clubbing events and raves, giving out free ear protection and telling us about the dangers of tinnitus and how to protect ourselves. As a result, I visited a music shop and got the best ear protection I could. And danced the night away, every two hours leaving the main venue and going outside to give my ears a break, even though I was wearing ear protection. Good memories.
In the gyms, over 70 Decibels was frowned upon very seriously. Nobody dared ignore the rule, and if they were silly enough to do so, I complained to the management, and the complaint was acted upon. In the third world country in which I am a visitor for the next six weeks (and have been for the last 7 years, over 90 is illegal. And yet, in the gym recently, the instructor turned it up to 140, citing the excuse that we were being "too lazy" and needed to "wake up". I just made makeshift ear protection and prayed that my ears would survive.
As a holistic practitioner in this country for the last 7 years, I have had tinnitus clients. Invariably, they worked in engineering firms or in a high noise environment. The bosses convinced them that they had enough ear protection. So where did the tinnitus come from? Purely emotional? I think not. What emotions do all those people working in an engineering firm have in common? Love for engineering? Hogwash, I say. But as a scientist by training, I am entitled to that opinion.
So what can you do if you live in a third-world country and you think you may be exposed to high noise levels? Well, if you are prepared to be made a pariah or (if a work situation), you are prepared to lose your job rather than get tinnitus for the rest of your life, here are a few pointers.
If a customer, complain to the management and ask what they are going to do to rectify the situation. Or in a gym, for example, you can go up to the nuisance idiot of an instructor and make a high-pitched horrible sound into one of his or her ears (I did that one successfully once). Then say "Hear that? This is what tinnitus feels like, and you will never be able to turn it off. It is caused by the loud music you are playing. You can get tinnitus if you choose, but I forbid you from damaging my body. Now turn it down at once!" It does take guts, and you may not be prepared for confrontation. So a complaint to the local authorities that have the job of noise pollution may be a good step.
If an employee, see if Human Resources are amenable to taking care of your health. If not, you may have to go legal and take legal action against the company. Not for everyone, as you may lose your job, and depending on how good your lawyer is, you may or may not get compensation. Best have another job lined up just in case. Or choose between the job and potential tinnitus.
If neither of the above options appeals to you, seek the help of a professional in getting the best ear protection you can afford and use it. Nobody can sack you or bully you for quietly protecting yourself from harm. Or at least, I hope they do not.
Most of all, educate yourself. Go on the internet, read about Decibel levels, noise health and safety, what is available, what you can do, and how to look after the health of your ears. A little bit of education on how to stay healthy now can pay huge dividends in the future for your ear health. Read about allowed noise levels and what the holistic health community says. Read what Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist publish about noise. Empower yourself with knowledge.