Noise-induced hearing loss is among the most common hearing loss causes. Noise exposure is at an all-time high. We could be damaging our hearing even in our homes.
Traffic, loud music, and more can hurt your hearing. And, it’s often gradual. So, it’s hard to notice it’s happening.
In this article, we’ll go through the basics of noise-related hearing loss.
Let’s dive into it.
What’s the cause of noise-induced hearing loss?
According to this study, it depends on how loud the noise is. The same goes for how long you’re exposed to it. For instance, a loud explosion could cause hearing loss almost instantly. Yet, working in a woodworking shop takes longer.
A normal conversation isn’t likely to cause hearing loss. Anything over 85 A-weighted decibels (dBA) can. So, the following could be risky:
- Movie theaters.
- Loud traffic.
- Music through headphones and concerts.
However, they’re unlikely to cause damage in short bursts. You can avoid long exposure to these sources to avoid hearing loss.
How does noise damage hearing?
Hearing takes a series of steps to work. To summarize, it’s all about sound waves entering our ears. That causes our eardrum to vibrate and send the signal via tiny bones.
Hair cells ride the waves. And, that releases different chemicals and generates electric signals. The auditory nerve takes this signal to the brain for processing.
Excessive loud noises can harm and kill the hair cells in our ears. Human hair cells don’t regenerate.
How can you notice noise-induced hearing loss?
Hearing loss is gradual. So, it’s hard to notice the changes. As such, you must be wary of small changes. For instance, you might need to turn up the volume on your TV more often.
Tinnitus is another common sign. You might hear ringing or buzzing in your ears. Some hearing loss cases go away in hours or days. But, make sure you see a doctor if anything seems off.
Who’s more prone to noise-induced hearing loss?
Noise & Health has an in-depth article on noise-induced hearing loss. You’re more likely to suffer NHL if you’re constantly exposed to loud sounds.
Therefore, some occupations have a higher risk of hearing loss. I’m talking about occupations related directly to loud noises. So, we’re not considering commute, accidents, and other variables.
Orchestral musicians tend to see prolonged exposure to noise over 80 dBA. From rehearsing to concerts, this exposure could take hours.
Yet, we can’t neglect other types of musicians. Traditional “garage bands” can also experience long exposures to loud noise. In these cases, earplugs are a must to protect their hearing.
Farming communities usually exceed recommended noise levels. Depending on the tools and machinery, noise can exceed 80 dBA.
Moreover, farming has one of the highest hearing loss risks. That’s because hearing protection is rare in this occupation. In many cases, noise-induced hearing loss can begin during childhood. Thus, living on farms is also a risk for NHL.
Naturally, construction workers are constantly exposed to loud noise. A complete shift can easily exceed the recommended noise exposure limits.
That said, hearing protection is more common in construction workers. But, audiometric testing is also necessary for prevention. In some cases, the noise can overcome hearing protection.
Music player users
Finally, young people suffer more noise exposure than ever. That’s mainly due to the prevalence of music players, club music, and concerts.
That said, music players are the largest culprit. It’s a lot easier to listen to music every day on a music player. And, it’s also easy to overdo it with the volume meter.
How can you prevent noise-induced hearing loss?
[According to the CDC](https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/hearingloss/noise.html#:~:text=Hearing loss can result from,be medically or surgically corrected.), you can do several things to prevent noise-induced hearing loss.
- Understand the complications that come from hearing loss.
- Identify loud sound sources that can harm your hearing.
- Avoid or limit your exposure to excessive noise.
- Listen to music at a moderate level.
- Keep your distance from noise sources.
- Use hearing protection when you must endure loud noise.
- Check your hearing with a professional periodically.
The holistic takeaway
Noise-induced hearing loss is more common than ever. And, the same goes for tinnitus. That’s why you must be aware of your hearing health at all times.
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