Exposure to excessive noise is one of the top causes of hearing loss around the globe for the 466 million people who have moderate to severe hearing loss. Noise exposure can harm anyone’s hearing, but young people are especially prone to this risk due to their music listening habits. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that approximately 1.1 billion young people between the ages of 12 and 35 are risking their hearing health as a result of noise exposure during recreational settings.
International Noise Awareness Day helps to bring attention to the fact that noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is permanent but can be prevented by avoiding loud areas and protecting your hearing with earplugs/earmuffs or covering your ears when in contact with loud noises.
What Noise Levels are Considered to be Too Loud?
If you live in a quiet neighborhood or have a job in a quiet work environment, most of the sounds are at safe listening levels. However, there can be noises that are unsafe for your ears. Overexposure to noises from kitchen appliances, heavy traffic noises, subway trains, power tools, rock concerts, industrial work environments, or construction zones can damage your hearing.
Environmental sound intensity is measured in decibel (dBA) units. The softest sound that can be heard by a human ear is zero decibels (dB). Noises that are over 70 dB can harm your hearing over a prolonged amount of time. Loud noises that are over 120 dB can instantly harm your ears. Essentially, the louder the sounds are, the less time it takes to damage your hearing.
Many years of research have documented damage to the inner ear’s hair cells that is caused by excessive noise. Recurring pounding sounds of pressure against the nerve fibers may initially lead to temporary hearing loss, and then permanent damage. Any damage to these hair cells can cause permanent hearing loss.
Noise Exposure Raises the Risk of Tinnitus
Tinnitus - the phantom buzzing, chirping, ringing, or roaring noise in the ears or head - can be caused by exposure to loud noises. Tinnitus might ease over time, but in some cases continue as an irregular or permanent symptom.
One of the primary causes of tinnitus is noise. Some of the most common triggers of tinnitus are concerts, weddings, and receiving MRIs. In other cases, it can be caused by one very loud event or a sequence of exposures. Hearing aids or sound therapy may be recommended to mask the noise.
How NIHL Occurs
NIHL accumulates over time. Usually, people don’t notice the hearing loss until much later. By that time it’s too late the save what’s been lost. Hearing aids can help slow down the loss, but they cannot restore hearing.
With NIHL, you may begin to notice a problem with your hearing if you notice tinnitus right after the noise is heard, and/or sounds that are slightly muffled. Your ears are warning you that you have hearing loss if it’s difficult to understand others when they speak. Get your hearing tested immediately in this case.
If you start to notice noise-induced hearing loss or any other form of hearing loss, it’s a good idea to create a timeline and journal about your experiences so your hearing healthcare provider can get a better idea of what you’ve gone through.
Contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a complimentary hearing test and consultation.