Hearing loss is considered as the second leading cause of a global burden, and a major disability which affects the quality of life of the people suffering from it. While there might be a number of different reasons for reported hearing loss in an individual, noise is a major contributing factor as well. Hereditary factors, complications at birth, and exposure to dangerously loud noises, are some other common reasons for hearing loss in individuals.
Noise Induced Hearing Loss – Affecting Hearing Abilities
Noise induced hearing loss involves exposure to dangerously high levels of sounds for an extended period of time. Noise induced hearing loss can be a temporary issue or it might become a permanent problem, if an individual is exposed to high decibel noises for a long time.
According to statistics, around 15% of the American population, which is 26 million people that lie between the 20 to 69 years age bracket, suffer from noise induced hearing loss. (National Institute on Deafness and Other Communications Disorders (NIDCD)). This noise induced hearing loss might be due to noise at work or exposure to sounds during leisure activities.
According to a survey conducted by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, around 16% of the teens and young adults, aged between 12 and 19 years, were noted to suffer from hearing loss that was attributed to prolonged exposure to dangerously high sound levels. (Josef Shargorodsky, 2010)
How Does Noise Induced Hearing Loss Occur?
The dangerously high decibel sounds damage the hearing nerves and the hearing cells of the inner ear. This is called as sensorineural hearing loss or nerve damage. This kind of damage mighty be brought about by exposure to sounds of high intensity for brief spells, that might include explosions, or continuous sound in a work environment. The hearing loss might be immediate or it might affect a person, slowly over a period of time. (John Hopkins Medicine ).
The hearing loss might also result in tinnitus, which is a condition in which there is a ringing sound that is continuously heard in the head. This ringing or buzzing sound is heard as a result of damage to the ears, due to prolonged exposure to loud sounds.
Sounds that might result in noise induced hearing loss include:
· Firing of guns
· Personal audio devices switched to high frequency sounds
· Lawn mowers
· Vacuum cleaners
· Chain saws
· Jet engine
· Construction and heavy machinery
Sounds that are of 80 decibels are considered to be safe, while normal conversations are shared at 60 decibels. A sound of 90 decibels produced from lawn mowers might affect a gradual hearing loss over a period of time. At 110 decibels, sounds from chain saws should be avoided by wearing protective ear wear to avoid any damage to the hearing, while sounds at 140 decibels approximately, produced in rock concerts and by firecrackers, are dangerous enough to cause permanent hearing loss in an individual. (John Hopkins Medicine ).
To avoid hearing loss and damage from loud noises, ear plugs that fit into the outer ear canal of a person need to be used, while wear muffs that cover the entire outer ear are a good option as well. Decreasing the intensity of the sound to a safe level and avoiding prolonged exposure to dangerously high sound levels can help minimize the damage caused by noised induced hearing loss as well.
This article is written by: Dr. Lori Trentacoste, head audiologist at Island Better Hearing (www.islandbetterhearing.com) All images and content in this article are the sole property of the LIAHP and Dr. Trentacoste (c) 2015, All rights reserved whereby use of this article or any content references from this article and/or other written products in this blogsite must be done with express permission from Dr. Lori Trentacoste.
John Hopkins Medicine . (n.d.). Noise Induced Hearing Loss. Retrieved April 2015, from John Hopkins Medicine : http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/otolaryngology/noise-induced_hearing_loss_85,P00458/
Josef Shargorodsky, S. G. (2010). Change In Prevalence of Hearing Loss in US Adolescents . The Journal of the American Medical Association . http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=186427
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communications Disorders (NIDCD). (n.d.). Noise Induced Hearing Loss. Retrieved April 2015, from National Institute on Deafness and Other Communications Disorders (NIDCD): http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/pages/noise.aspx