Every day, we experience sound in our environment, such as the sounds from
television, IPods, household appliances, and traffic. Normally, we hear these sounds at safe levels that do not affect our hearing. However, when we are exposed to harmfulnoise—sounds that are too loud or loud sounds that last a long time—sensitive structures in our inner ear can be damaged, causing noise-induced hearing loss.
Exposure to harmful sounds causes damage to the hair cells as well as the auditory, or hearing nerve (see how we hear). Harmful sound can result in immediate or gradual hearing loss that may be permanent. This kind of hearing loss may be accompanied by tinnitus—a ringing, buzzing, or roaring in the ears or head—, which may subside over time. Hearing loss and tinnitus may be experienced in one or both ears, and tinnitus may continue constantly or occasionally throughout a lifetime.
A past history of exposure to loud sounds, such as; military service, industrial/mechanical noise, or work in a loud environment is common among people with noise induced hearing loss.
Facts about Noise Induced Hearing Loss:
- Noise-induced hearing loss is 100% preventable!
- Although hearing problems are commonly associated with aging, more than 5 million young people in the United States between the ages of six and 19 report noise-induced hearing loss.
- We need to dial the volume down on our iPods, radios and cell phones in order to prevent unnecessary hearing loss.
- To prevent hearing loss, we need to:
- Turn it down
- Walk away from the noise
- Use hearing protection, or ear plugs
Someone with noise induced hearing loss may not even be aware of the loss, but it can be detected with a hearing test.
Over time, the sounds a person hears may become distorted or muffled, and it may be difficult for the person to understand speech.
The first step in treatment of a hearing problem is a hearing evaluation by an audiologist.