Noise induced hearing loss can be a result of sudden exposure to a loud noise or as due to continuous subjection to noise over a period. It can manifest at any age, and it usually depends on the level of noise exposure.
The human ear is capable of hearing sound at different intensities. The decibel which is safe for the human ear is 75 decibels. Decibels is the unit with which sound is measured. If the ear is subjected to sounds at 75 decibels, it does not have any effect in the long term.
The noise induced hearing loss is prone to occur when the sound is at a level of 85 decibels or higher. With an increase in the decibel level of the sound, there is also a decrease in the time it takes for the noise induced hearing loss to take effect.
Hearing loss develops when the sound that enters the ear enters with enough force or sound energy capable of damaging the hair cells in the ear. These hair cells are responsible for bending and producing electrical signals which the auditory nerves can take to the brain.
Causes of Noise induced hearing loss
There are lots of different causes of Noise induced hearing loss. Some of the most common causes include;
- Occupational noise; jobs which involve work in a factory, a construction site, or in an airport
- Exposure to sudden explosions, gunshots, which damage the ear structures
- Using headphones at very high volumes
- Activities like hunting and shooting
- Live concerts
- Power tools
How to protect yourself from noise
If you find yourself in a situation where there will be continuous exposure to noise, you must always use protective equipment. Consider getting an earmuff or an earplug for protection.
Your best option is to avoid areas with a loud noise. If it is unavoidable then always protect your ears.
There are certain indications to tell when you find yourself in an area that may result in hearing loss. Identifying such places makes it easier to avoid them.
Below are some indications
- Tinnitus which is a ringing or buzzing in the ear is experienced once you are away from such place
- Difficulty in hearing people close to you
- After leaving such a place, you can see people talking, but you can’t understand what they are saying
- The feeling that your ear is clogged
Since the hearing loss may often take a bit of time before it fully manifests, there is a possibility that a person may have lost some of the hearing ability before it is discovered.
Some things you need to look out for include;
- Inability to hear during one-on-one conversations
- Increasing volumes on devices like TV, PCs, smartphones, to hear what is being said
- Poor hearing when there are noises in the background
Early detection of such symptoms can help to prevent permanent loss of hearing.
Treating Noise induced hearing loss is not currently an option since it is an irreversible condition. Your best option is to prevent it.
The use of hearing aids is also incorporated. This helps to make sounds louder so that it can be heard.