A Complete Guide to Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

woman outdoors holding hand to ear

Noise-induced hearing loss is a condition that develops when you get exposed to loud noise over an extended period. It can be caused by one event, such as an explosion or gunshot, but most often, it occurs gradually due to prolonged exposure. 

The good news is that there are steps you can take to prevent noise-induced hearing loss. Such include: 

Here is a guide with everything you need to know about this condition.

What is Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?

Noise-induced hearing loss is a condition that happens over time and worsens as you get older. It can result from exposure to noise, such as loud music or factory work. However, it has the potential to happen from even short periods of elevated sound levels. 

Noise-induced hearing loss occurs through prolonged or repeated exposure to loud noise. High-intensity sounds can lead to ruptured eardrums, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and other nerve disorders that result from damage to hair cells within your inner ear. Noise-induced hearing loss is also known as acquired hearing loss.

Which Sounds Are Safe and Which Are Not?

You should know that there are two types of sounds. One is the safe sound that you can listen to repeatedly without worrying about your hearing. But, at the same time, others could cause severe damage to your ears if heard continuously for an extended period or in higher volume.

The safe sounds are those that come from instruments and tools like musical instruments, power drills (without earmuff), and saw. They are not harmful if you listen to them in a day for about an hour or so with no more than 80 decibels of sound intensity level. 

The unsafe sounds could be the one that comes from usual sources like car’s backfiring, motorcycles, or a jet taking off. They can damage your hearing if you listen to it in a day for more than an hour with a sound intensity level of 85 dB SPL and higher, which is known as the risk zone.

What Are the Symptoms of Existing Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?

One of the symptoms is tinnitus or ringing in the ears. Most people with noise-induced hearing loss will also notice that their speech sounds muffled, and they have a hard time following conversations when there’s background noise present. 

If you experience any of these symptoms, it might be time to set up an appointment with your audiologist to test your ability to hear specific frequencies and determine if you are at risk for developing permanent damage from continued exposure to loud noises. 

Another symptom is a feeling of fullness or blockage in the ears. Again, it is possible to suffer damage without becoming aware that it has occurred, so the first step should be through a hearing test.

How Can You Prevent Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?

There are many ways to prevent noise-induced hearing loss:

  • You can use earplugs to help block out noise
  • Try to avoid loud noises as much as possible. For instance, if your job is too noisy or too much noise around you, see if you can find a different position.
  • Always wear ear protection when at the shooting range or on the firing line.

However, it may not be easy to prevent noise-induced hearing loss because many people aren’t aware of how loud the noise is. 

How Do You Test for Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?

There are several ways to test for noise-induced hearing loss. The most common way is a standard audiogram, which tests your ability to hear sounds at different frequencies and volumes. It’s similar in concept to how you would measure the length of an item by measuring it from one end to another. 

In this case, test your ability to hear various measured tones as they get louder or softer over time until they’re too soft/loud for you to detect them anymore. In addition, other types of specialized testing can be done that will test for more detailed information about what parts of your ear have gotten damaged and how much damage has occurred there. 

Is There Special Treatment for Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Noise-induced hearing loss is a permanent condition. In most cases, there are no treatments for the condition other than wearing ear protection when you’re around loud noise or using sound therapy to enhance your ability to hear at lower volumes. If you have been diagnosed with this hearing loss, you must avoid loud noises, such as gunshots and leaf blowers.

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is permanent and irreversible damage to your ear. It occurs when you get exposed for too long to loud sounds, such as music or other noise from work or social life. The main thing that can help prevent it is protecting your ears with the right tools like headphones and earplugs.

To learn more about Professional Hearing Aid Associates, call this phone number: (785) 940-4101