Noise Induced Hearing Loss
Noise induced hearing loss is one of the most common forms of hearing loss. This is hearing loss which has occurred due to the prolonged exposure to loud noises, such as industrial noise, concerts, and often, service in the military prior to the widespread use of hearing protection.
Approximately 30 million workers are exposed to hazardous noise levels at their occupation. If you are occupied in one of the following industries, you should be extra vigilant about your exposure to loud noise and use hearing protection whenever possible.
- Orchestra conductors
The good news about noise induced hearing loss is that it is an entirely preventable hearing disorder. Even if you are already suffering from hearing loss due to exposure to loud noises, if you begin to wear hearing protection you can often times stop that loss in its tracks, unlike other forms of hearing loss.
So what kind of hearing protection should you use?
Well, that largely depends on what type of environment you are in where there is loud noise. For most folks that suffer from noise induced hearing loss, that means the workplace. In that case, you should be wearing earplugs which don’t shut off all noise, but instead serve to reduce noise and preserve sound quality. In the workplace, you can’t be shut off from everything around you, so you’ll need ear plugs that will turn down the noise, but not muffle voices, environmental sounds, or music. You will need high fidelity ear plugs like the ones shown to the left.
If being aware of your environment and the noises around you aren’t important, you can probably get away with buying cheaper, traditional foam ear plugs which can offer extreme protection. These are best for light sleepers, students, or anyone that wants really quiet time.
How can a person tell if a noisy situation is dangerous to their hearing?
There are a few general rules of thumb on how to assess whether a situation is so loud that it can cause hearing loss. Keep in mind that everyone has different tolerance to loud noise, and the following environments will not cause hearing loss in everyone. However, if the noise is so loud that it makes your ears hurt or ring, it is probably causing hearing loss. In addition, if the noise is so loud that you have to shout to communicate to the person right next to you, hearing loss is probably occurring. Keep in mind that loud noise exposure may not only cause hearing loss, but could also cause ringing in the ears, known as tinnitus. For more information, here is a great video that gives an overview of noise induced hearing loss, some of the common culprits, and how to prevent noise induced hearing loss.
If you’d like a free phone consultation with a licensed hearing provider, please feel free to call us at 800-731-6794.