VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A hearing expert wants Something in the Water attendees and anyone who exposes themselves to loud noises, to protect their ears.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says more than a billion young adults are at risk of permanent hearing loss due to unsafe listening habits.

“I have some noise-induced hearing loss. I have some ringing in my ears, and it’s from music. It’s from shows,” said Dr. Molly Howlett.

Howlett is a Doctor of Audiology and the owner of Hearing Services of Virginia, which is located in Virginia Beach. Her firsthand experience with hearing loss motivates her to support and educate others.

“What happens with noise exposure is that over time we can have damage to the hair cells that are in the inner part of the ear,” she said.

The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that sound is measured by decibels (db).

“A whisper is about 30 dB, normal conversation is about 60 dB, and a motorcycle engine running is about 95 dB. Noise above 70 dB over a prolonged period of time may start to damage your hearing. Loud noise above 120 dB can cause immediate harm to your ears,” the CDC says.

Howlett says a concert or festival can be as loud as 120 decibels and can cause ear damage quickly.

“With a sudden or loud exposure or a sudden very loud exposure. You’ll almost instantly feel muffled. Sometimes the muffled will clear up and that’s what we call a temporary shift,” she said.

She said long-term impacts are worse.

“We’re increasing the volume on the television, or people sound muffled, or they start to experience tinnitus or ringing or buzzing in their ears,” Howlett said.

Howlett said noise-induced hearing loss is preventable. She encourages people who attend music events or those whose work exposes them to loud sounds, to wear earplugs. She also, recommends noise-canceling ear muffs for young children as well.

“I think it’s important people realize that wearing hearing protection is cool now,” Howlett said.