What is Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?

Did you know that according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), there are more than 25 million U.S citizens living with noise-induced hearing loss? Just as the name suggests, noise-induced hearing loss is a hearing impairment resulting from exposure to loud sound. Sounds can be harmful when they are too loud, even for a brief time, or when they are both loud and long-lasting. That is why it is important to take the necessary precautions to protect your hearing, especially when you are in situations or work environments with frequent loud noises.

Causes of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL)

As mentioned above, noise-induced hearing loss can be caused by a sudden, one-time exposure to a loud noise, or it can be caused by continuous exposure to loud noise(s) for lengthy periods of time. It is important to be aware of the fact that the severity of the hearing damage depends on the distance you are from the source and the length of time you are exposed to that sound. These harmful noises can come from a multitude of things (certain environments, activities, etc.).

Here are some of the most common environments, activities and other causes of noise-induced hearing loss:

  • Machinery including power tools, motorcycles, factory equipment, etc.
  • Music concerts
  • Listening to music with in-ear earbuds or headphones at high volume
  • Active construction sites
  • Lawn mowers and leaf blowers
  • Heavy city traffic
  • Sirens
  • Fireworks
  • Shooting range
  • Jet airplane engines
  • Car or truck engines
  • Racetracks
  • Weather events and other natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes

Symptoms of Noise-induced Hearing Loss

It can sometimes be difficult to know you have a noise-induced hearing loss, as it can be very gradual and difficult to notice over time. However, there are several symptoms that can suggest a noise-induced hearing loss could be present including:

  • Temporary hearing loss that may go away after 16–48 hours
  • An inability to hear higher pitched sounds
  • Ringing, buzzing, or roaring in ears or head which is known as tinnitus
  • Difficulty in hearing conversations in noisy rooms
  • Other people’s speech sounding muffled, distorted, and far away

If left untreated, your hearing can continue to deteriorate and impact on your ability to hear and understand speech.

Good News! Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Preventable.

Protect your hearing health and prevent noise-induced hearing loss by:

  • Educating yourself and knowing which noises can cause hearing damage (those above 85 dB) Visit www.nidcd.nih.gov to learn more about the average decibel ratings of some familiar sounds.
  • Wearing protection such as earplugs, earmuffs or other hearing protectors when you know loud sounds will be in your immediate environment
  • Being aware to “hearing loss hazards” and letting your friends and family know about them
  • Getting your hearing tested by a certified hearing care professional if you suspect you may have hearing loss

If you live in or near Vancouver, Washington and want to speak with an experienced hearing care professional about noise-induced hearing loss or about getting custom hearing protectors for you or a loved one, contact us at Audiology Clinic today and make an appointment.

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