ST. CLOUD - Nearly twice as many people report having hearing loss as report having diabetes or cancer.

The Center for Disease Control says hearing loss is the third highest reported chronic health problem among Americans. While most hearing loss is attributed to genetics or old age, over 40 million Americans between ages 20 and 69 have noise induced hearing loss.

Noise induced hearing loss is caused by any long term exposure to loud noise.

Sveinar Y. Larsen, an audiologist at St. Cloud Ear, Nose, and Throat clinic says there are things you can do to prevent damage from loud noises.

"The majority of hearing loss from recreational noise exposure comes from gun fire. A good rule of thumb is protect your hearing when your around anything as loud as a power lawn mower. A good idea is leave ear plugs in your gun case or by your lawn mower so they are convenient to use."

Noise is measured by decibels (dB). At 85 (dB) most people are at risk of hearing damage from extended exposure from noise.  The average lawn mower is around 95 (dB) and can cause damage after 2 hours without ear protection.

A gunshot can range from 140 (dB) to 190 (dB) depending upon the type of weapon. If your not wearing protection you can cause immediate and permanent hearing damage at those decibels.

The CDC says men over the age of 40 were the most likely to start showing signs of hearing loss. Larsen says there are a few warning signs to know if you may be experiencing hearing loss.

"Certainly if they notice a ringing in their ears its a good time to get your ears checked. If you notice a difference between ears that would be another time to get your ears checked".