What is noise-induced hearing loss?

Posted by in Hearing on Dec 19, 2015

Every day, we experience sound in our environment, such as the sounds from television and radio, household appliances, and traffic. Normally, these sounds are at safe levels that don’t damage our hearing. But sounds can be harmful when they are too loud, even for a brief time, or when they are both loud and long-lasting. These sounds can damage sensitive structures in the inner ear and cause noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).

NIHL can be immediate or it can take a long time to be noticeable. It can be temporary or permanent, and it can affect one ear or both ears. Even if you can’t tell that you are damaging your hearing, you could have trouble hearing in the future, such as not being able to understand other people when they talk, especially on the phone or in a noisy room. Regardless of how it might affect you, one thing is certain: noise-induced hearing loss is something you can prevent.

Who is affected by NIHL?

Exposure to harmful noise can happen at any age. People of all ages, including children, teens, young adults, and older people, can develop NIHL. Approximately 15 percent of Americans between the ages of 20 and 69—or 26 million Americans—have hearing loss that may have been caused by exposure to noise at work or in leisure activities. As many as 16 percent of teens (ages 12 to 19) have reported some hearing loss that could have been caused by loud noise, according to a 2010 report based on a survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

What causes NIHL?

NIHL can be caused by a one-time exposure to an intense “impulse” sound, such as an explosion, or by continuous exposure to loud sounds over an extended period of time, such as noise generated in a woodworking shop.

Recreational activities that can put you at risk for NIHL include target shooting and hunting, snowmobile riding, listening to MP3 players at high volume through earbuds or headphones, playing in a band, and attending loud concerts. Harmful noises at home may come from sources including lawnmowers, leaf blowers, and woodworking tools.

Sound is measured in units called decibels. Sounds of less than 75 decibels, even after long exposure, are unlikely to cause hearing loss. However, long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. The louder the sound, the shorter the amount of time it takes for NIHL to happen.

Here are the average decibel ratings of some familiar sounds:

  • The humming of a refrigerator
    45 decibels
  • Normal conversation
    60 decibels
  • Noise from heavy city traffic
    85 decibels
  • Motorcyles
    95 decibels
  • An MP3 player at maximum volume
    105 decibels
  • Sirens
    120 decibels
  • Firecrackers and firearms
    150 decibels

Your distance from the source of the sound and the length of time you are exposed to the sound are also important factors in protecting your hearing. A good rule of thumb is to avoid noises that are too loud, too close, or last too long.

Source: http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/Pages/noise.aspx#1

More about Beverly Hills Hearing Center, Beverly Hills, California

Need your questions answered? We are here for you at Beverly Hills Hearing Center, 9100 Wilshire Blvd, Ste 310 E, Beverly Hills, California 90212. We are open Monday-Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Call for an appointment: +1 310-276-8585

We have been serving the hearing needs of the community for more than 30 years. Most of our referrals come from physician’s offices and previous customers. We provide a variety of hearing health care services in a friendly professional atmosphere. We are known for the quality of care we provide and always go the extra mile for our customers.

Beverly Hills Hearing Center provides a comprehensive array of services related to prevention, evaluation, and rehabilitation of hearing impairment. These services include comprehensive hearing evaluations, specialized diagnostic testing, Impedance audiometry, real ear measurement, acoustic reflex testing, and industrial hearing screenings. Furthermore, our services are not only for people who have hearing problems. The practice offers custom made hearing protection for musicians, hunters and people who work or sleep in a noisy environment. In addition, custom made in the ear monitors are available for musicians. Custom fitted earpieces for hands-free cellular phone operation, MP3 users and Blue tooth devices are also now available.

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