Complete Care for Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
The joy of sound is a wonderful ability, but sounds can harmful when they are too loud, even for a short time. Very loud noise can cause damage to sensitive structures within the inner ear and result in noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). If you have hearing loss from loud noises, you may have trouble understanding other people when they speak (especially on the phone or in a crowded room).
How is a Loud Noise Defined?
According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, noise becomes damaging when:
- Your ears hurt or ring
- You have to shout to be heard
- You have difficulty hearing for several hours after being exposed to the noise
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Symptoms
The symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss may be experienced immediately or happen gradually over time. The hearing loss can be temporary or permanent, and may affect one ear or both ears.
If you have noise-induced hearing loss, you may have:
- Difficulty understanding another person during a conversation on the telephone, or in a group
- Muffled or distorted hearing
- Pain or ringing in your ears (tinnitus) after being exposed to excessively loud noise
- Trouble hearing sounds, such as alarm clocks, birds or crickets chirping, telephones, cell phones or doorbells
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Causes
You can experience hearing loss after a one-time exposure to a loud noise, or after repeated exposure to varying types of loud noises.
Loud noise exposure can occur:
- At home (lawn or leaf blower, shop tools, garbage disposal)
- At work (heavy construction, jet engines, sandblasting, chain saws)
- During recreational activities (firing guns, motorcycles, power horns)
If you’re exposed to an extremely loud noise, it has the potential to damage the hair cells in your inner ear, and your hearing nerve. This is called sensorineural hearing loss, or nerve deafness.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Prevention
You can prevent NIHL by using earplugs or earmuffs if you know you’ll be exposed to loud noises, either for a short while or over a long period of time.
Take these precautions to further protect your ears:
- Be aware of excessively loud noises in your environment
- Know which noises are too loud and can cause damage
- Get a medical examination to test your hearing
- Protect small children from loud noises
Audiologists at UPMC specialize in testing and diagnosing noise-induced hearing loss in Williamsport, PA, and the surrounding areas.