What is Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?
Take a moment and think about your daily activities and the sounds that are around you.
- Do you listen to the radio in your car?
- What kind of environment do you work in?
- Do you listen to music through ear buds at the gym?
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Defined
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is when damage is caused to your inner ear from sounds that are loud for a short time or when they are both loud and long lasting.
Hearing loss isn’t just an older person’s affliction. Hearing loss can happen to people of all ages. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders states that 15 percent of Americans have hearing loss due to exposure to noise from their daily work and/or leisure activities. Furthermore, 16 percent of teenagers have reported some hearing loss due to loud noises such as the continuous use of ear buds.
NIHL usually isn’t a sudden loss of hearing. When you are exposed to loud noise over time, you will slowly start to lose your hearing. Sometimes this is unnoticeable. Gradually sounds will become distorted and other people will be hard to understand.
Noise-induced hearing loss coupled with aging can lead to a pretty profound hearing loss. Hearing loss at this level can be helped with the assistance of hearing aids. Hearing aids have been shown to help the wearer’s quality of life drastically improve. Users no longer feel segregated by their friends and family because of their inability to hear.
Precautions to Prevent Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
However, there are many precautions you can take to prevent NIHL.
- Be aware of noises over 85 decibels. (There are many smartphone apps that you can download to check the decibels of noises around you.)
- Wear protective devices for your ears, such as ear plugs or earmuffs when participating in activities where loud noises will be present; i.e. mowing the lawn, hunting, or attending loud concerts.
- Reduce the noise you take in during your daily activities; i.e. turn down the TV volume, use ear buds sparingly and never at an extreme volume.