Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Can Loud Noises Damage Your Hearing?

Many people don’t realize that loud noises have the potential to cause serious hearing loss. In fact, exposure to loud noise is one of the leading causes of hearing issues in the United States. There’s actually a name for it: noise-induced hearing loss. This condition is the reason why it’s so important to protect your hearing by wearing earplugs or earmuffs whenever you find yourself in a noisy environment. To help you get a better understanding of this condition, here’s a look at why and how it happens to some people.

The Problem with Loud Noises

The ear is made up of many complex structures all working together. When one or more of those structures gets damaged, our hearing can be negatively affected either temporarily or permanently. These structures can be damaged in several different ways, and loud noise is one of them.

Loud noises can destroy sensitive cells, nerves and other parts inside the ear, and these structures do not grow back. In general, the louder the noise, the more likely damage is to occur. That’s because extremely loud sounds, like bomb explosions, can do a lot of damage very quickly. Sounds that aren’t as loud, like music speakers or motorcycles, will probably only cause minimal damage. However, even minor damage can become serious with frequent and long-lasting exposure. Over time and with enough damage, a person may need to use a hearing aid or other assistive listening device.

Symptoms of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Because most noise-induced hearing loss is gradual, it’s not something you notice right away. It may take years or even decades before you see a noticeable difference in your hearing. As a result, even though people of all ages can be affected by this condition, it’s most commonly seen in adults. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Sounds become distorted or muffled
  • You have trouble understanding what people are saying to you
  • You need to turn up the volume on the TV in order to hear
  • You experience tinnitus, which is when you hear ringing, buzzing or roaring sounds in your ear
  • You have difficulty hearing in a crowd

If you do have one or more of these symptoms, think back to all the times in your life when you may have been exposed to loud noises. Do you work at a noisy factory or construction site? Do you go to a lot of rock concerts? Were you exposed to an explosion or a lot of gunshots? Do you frequently operate power tools? Do you ride a motorcycle? If you can answer yes to any of those questions, you may have noise-induced hearing loss. However, only a hearing evaluation by a qualified professional can confirm what might be causing your symptoms.

How to Protect Your Ears

So, can loud noises cause hearing loss? The answer is absolutely yes. Take precautions and wear hearing protection anytime you’re going to be in a noisy environment. Prevention is key for a lifetime of healthy hearing. Please contact us to schedule a hearing care appointment today.

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