Excessive noise is one potential cause of hearing loss in people of all ages. When you're exposed to loud noises the inner ear may become damaged. According to Healthline, this is called acoustic trauma, and it may affect the way vibrations are handled in the ear, potentially resulting in hearing loss. According to the The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, approximately 15 percent of Americans may be affected by noise-induced hearing loss.
Who is affected by noise-induced hearing loss?
Anyone can experience noise-induced hearing loss, but in general it affects people as they age. The reason is that consistent exposure to loud noises may eventually take a toll on the inner ear, resulting in potential hearing loss later in life. While seniors are generally diagnosed with hearing loss most often, a large number of young people experience noise-induced hearing loss as well.
What types of noise cause hearing loss?
When it comes to hearing loss due to noises, it's less about the type of noise and more about the volume. Really, any type of loud noise has the potential to cause hearing loss. It could be one sudden, loud noise, a number of loud sounds or just consistent loud noise over time. Many people experience loud noises in their work environment, but some may also experience loud noises at music concerts, by using a noisy lawnmower or power equipment or just listening to music through headphones with the volume on high.
How loud is too loud?
Anything over 85 decibels has the ability to cause permanent hearing loss, according to Dangerous Decibels. Most construction or industrial equipment is at least that loud. Music concerts are louder than that, too. Gunshots, fireworks and thunder can be well over 100 decibels. All of these things may cause damage to the inner ear, which may result in hearing loss.
Ways to prevent noise-induced hearing loss
The best way to prevent noise-induced hearing loss is to be aware of and stay away from loud noises, but that is not always possible. If you know you will be in an environment with loud noises, consider wearing protective equipment. Ear plugs and ear muffs will help shield your ears from loud noises. Some occupations require you to wear ear protection, but if you work in a loud environment and ear protection is not required, consider buying some earplugs to help protect your hearing.
What to do if you have noise-induced hearing loss
If you already have noise-induced hearing loss, the first step is to visit an audiologist who can help assess your situation and offer advice. There is a wide variety of assistive technologies to help – ranging from simple solutions such as CapTel captioned telephones to help you enjoy phone conversations, household devices such as signalers and visual alerts, to a vast array of hearing aids and assistive listening devices. Your audiologist can help determine what approach works best for you.