A Complete Guide to Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

woman outdoors cupping hand to ear

Ear and hearing health plays an essential role in our overall health and our daily activities. Unfortunately, this aspect of our health is usually forgotten until issues arise. Statistical reports from the CDC show that about 40 million adults have noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). The World Health Organization (WHO) recorded that over one billion young adults and teenagers are exposed to NIHL due to unsafe audio device uses and increased sound levels at nightclubs and sporting events.

What is noise-induced hearing loss? 

NIHL is triggered when hair cells in the ear canal are damaged due to excessive exposure to sounds above 85 decibels. A conversation amongst friends in a relatively quiet room is usually around 60 decibels. On the other hand, a rock concert can produce up to 100 decibels. Unfortunately, the human hair cells in your ear do not grow back, so the effects are permanent once damaged. You can have noise-induced hearing loss from multiple events or even just one. We often forget that the delicate ear is vulnerable to things that can affect just one ear part or both.

However, all noise-induced hearing loss is cumulative, whether due to severe tinnitus or hair cells damage. This means that minor damage can add until the impact is noticeable and disruptive from several separate occasions. 

Are there any signs of noise-induced hearing loss?

Like some people, you may have NIHL without even noticing. This is why you should be aware of the signs to identify them for yourself or a loved one. For instance, you can hear a muffled or ringing sound in your ear. This is a typical sign of noise-induced hearing loss. 

Although this may not lead to permanent ear damage after a single incident, it could be if you don’t take the necessary precautions. Other signs can be when you don’t seem to hear people or understand what they are saying. If you have to increase the television volume to hear, although others can, you have some noise-induced hearing loss. At this point, it is essential to take the necessary steps to get help for your hearing. 

What you can do to prevent noise-induced hearing loss

Now that you know what NIHL is and its causes, you should know the proper measures to prevent it. You may want to keep your sounds around 75 and 80 decibels and, if possible, below that sound level to stay safe. As mentioned earlier, it is helpful to keep your conversation around 60 decibels. But which sound levels are too high? According to experts, any noise level exceeding 85 is too loud and can expose you to risks of hearing loss. Although being in noisy environments such as clubs, music concerts, and other social events may also lead to NHIL, avoiding them does not reduce your risk. Simple daily activities such as using the lawnmower can put you at risk.

For this reason, it is advisable to try avoiding situations that expose you to sounds above 85 decibels. Once you become aware of this, you can take the necessary precautions to protect your hearing. Items like the foam earplugs are proven helpful for protecting against daily or regular exposure to excessive sounds and noise

Other helpful tips include the 60/60 rule, which suggests keeping the audio volume on your devices to sit below 60%. You can also utilize smartphone apps to test your decibel sound levels. Additionally, it helps to take a regular break from rooms where there are loud sounds or music. 

Other tips include:

  • Identify loud or excessive sounds sources and reduce them
  • Seeking regularly evaluation from your audiologist
  • Use protective devices if you can’t avoid noise, for example, those in the workplace

Are there treatments for noise-induced hearing loss? 

Your hearing is very crucial, and taking care of it should be a top priority. It is a good idea to talk to your audiologist anytime you have concerns with your hearing. Although there is no cure for this hearing loss type, you can get various treatments for your hearing problem. Your audiologist can offer the best advice for your hearing and brief you on the available options if you require some treatment. While properly fitting hearing aids can be an excellent option for treating your NIHL, your audiologist can advise on the best options to fit comfortably and adjust to your hearing requirements. 

You can talk to Tampa’s Audiology & Hearing Center today at (813) 374-303 for more information.