Do you struggle to follow conversations in loud environments? Have you persistently been exposed to loud noise, or have ringing in your ears? If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to these questions, you may have noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).
Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by prolonged exposure to excessive levels of noise – for example, in noisy workplaces, or while listening to loud music. It can also be caused by extremely loud bursts of sound such as gunshots and explosions that can lead to damage within the ear structures. You may not even notice the symptoms of NIHL until years after you were first exposed to loud noise. Tinnitus is often the first indicator that someone’s hearing has been damaged by noise.
Noise levels are usually measured in decibels (dB), a decibel scale that reflects the sensitivity of human ears to different levels and pitches of sound. Long exposure to sounds over 80 dB can damage your ears.
To help understand how this translates in the real world, ask yourself are you able to talk to someone standing 3 feet away from you without shouting over the background noise? If you are unable to communicate without raising your voice, there’s a good chance that the background noise is potentially hazardous to your hearing. If you’re ever anywhere where the sound volume hurts your ears, you should leave to avoid any damage. Some examples of common sounds we encounter are…
Scientific research has determined that, after excessive noise has stimulated cells in the inner ear, a chemical process called “apoptosis” occurs. Once the delicate hair cells in the inner ear are damaged by noise exposure, they cannot be restored. Unfortunately at this time, modern medicine has not yet discovered a way to restore hearing loss caused by excessive noise exposure. It is, however, possible to treat the communication impairments that are caused by noise-induced hearing loss.
Hearing aids can prove beneficial for sufferers by improving hearing in a number of everyday situations. They an also help to reduce an individual’s awareness of any tinnitus. But the best method is to try and prevent any noise-induced hearing loss in the first place. Try to avoid loud sounds at work, at home or when you go out and use hearing protection such as ear plugs or other isolation headphones.
Early detection and vigilance are key to help protect your hearing. We highly recommend regular screening. If you do have or suspect you might have NIHL, come in to speak to our expert team and find out how we can help you today. Call us at (212) 786-5741, or click here to request an appointment today.