Audiology instructor answers common hearing loss questions

JMU News

by Eric Gorton


Harrisonburg, Virginia — For National Audiology Awareness Month, JMU's Melissa Garber, a clinical instructor of audiology, answers some common questions about hearing loss.

Q: What causes hearing loss?

Garber: Exposure to loud sounds is a common cause of hearing loss.

Additional information: The American Academy of Audiology states that lengthy or repeated exposure to noise above 85 decibels, can damage hearing. To put that into perspective, noise from fireworks can reach up to 155 decibels. A jet plane taking off is estimated to be 150 decibels. Shooting a gun is around 140-175 decibels (depending on the gun). An amplified music concert and an MP3 player with the volume turned all the way up can be as high as 120 decibels.  Movie action scenes in the theater have been known to reach 100 decibels. Outdoor sounds can pose a risk too. Lawn mowers are around 85 decibels and chain saws can be 115-120 decibels. Compare these with normal conversation that is around 60-65 decibels.

Q: Why should people have their hearing checked?

Garber: Hearing cannot be restored once it is damaged. Untreated hearing loss can lead to feelings of isolation and a lack of desire for socialization.

Q: Other than not hearing things clearly, are there other signs of hearing loss?

Garber: Symptoms of hearing loss can sometimes mimic those of memory loss.

Q: How often should people clean ear wax out of their ears?

Garber: You don’t need to clean ear wax out of your ears. It serves an important purpose — one is to keep bugs out!

Q: What do audiologists do?

Garber: JMU's audiology clinic serves the general public in addition to the JMU community and offers diagnostic and baseline hearing tests, hearing aids, custom hearing protection devices and consultation for tinnitus (ringing in the ear). In additional to hearing loss, audiologist also work with patients who are experiencing dizziness.

Q: Why should students consider audiology as a career?

Garber: The profession of audiology is growing and job opportunities are very good. JMU has the only Doctor of Audiology degree program in Virginia and it's consistently ranked among the nation's best programs.

To schedule an appointment with the JMU audiology clinic, call (540) 568-6491 or email



Contact: Eric Gorton,, 540-908-1760.

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Published: Friday, October 22, 2021

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 1, 2023

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