Our sense of hearing is a complex process that takes vibrations in the air and transmits them to our brain for processing. Most of the time, we take this process for granted, especially when our hearing is good.
Over time though, our hearing can degrade. We can’t hear the TV or radio as good as we once could, or we start to notice that we say “what?” a lot more.
Damage caused by loud noises is one of the chief sources of hearing loss, especially in teens and young adults.
Most noises we encounter on a daily basis are at a safe level. But louder noises, especially ones we experience over a long period of time, can damage sensitive parts of your inner ear crucial to hearing. This is known as noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and is the only preventable type of hearing loss.
Common sources of noise-induced hearing loss
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, over 26 million Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 suffer from NIHL caused by work or recreational activities.
Decibels are the unit of measure for sound. Anything under 75 decibels is considered safe, even if exposed to it for a long period of time. Long, repeated exposure to anything over 85 decibels can cause NIHL. A normal conversation is around 60 decibels, while a motorcycle puts out 95 decibels. Sirens on an emergency vehicle register 120 decibels.
It is possible for NIHL to occur from a single event like an explosion, which is why combat veterans are especially vulnerable to this type of hearing loss.
How loud noises damage your hearing
In most cases, noise-induced hearing loss is gradual. You may not notice, or even ignore these signs for a long time until they become too difficult.
If the noise-induced hearing loss is caused by gunshots, an explosion or some other loud burst of sound, it can rupture the eardrum and damage bones in your middle ear. This sort of damage is immediately apparent and not reversible. Excessively loud noises like this can also cause tinnitus on one or both of your ears. Tinnitus is simply noise or ringing in the ears, and affects approximately 1 in 5 according to the Mayo Clinic.
For more long-term noises, the excessive vibrations damage and eventually destroy small hair cells in your cochlea, which over time can cause sounds to be muffled. This is by far the most common source of noise-induced hearing loss. Sources of this damaging sound can include machines you may have worked around, yard equipment like mowers and trimmers, or from repeated exposure to loud music.
Preventing noise-induced hearing loss
Like we explained earlier, noise-induced hearing loss is the only type of preventable hearing loss. You can take steps to protect your hearing. If you’ve been exposed to loud noises without taking precaution, it’s never too late to start. A few simple steps include:
Be aware of noises than can damage your hearing and use protection when involved in them.
Move away from any noise as soon as possible if you can’t reduce the noise or protect your ears.
Understand sources of hazardous noises and mitigate or avoid them.
Promote a culture of awareness among family, friends and co-workers.
If you’re suffering from noise-induced hearing loss, you may be frustrated that you can’t hear phone conversations that well. CaptionCall is a special system that allows you to read a transcript on your conversation while on the phone.
This program authorized by the Americans with Disabilities Act provides a CaptionCall phone to anyone with significant hearing loss so they can stay connected with family, friends and community.
To learn more about CaptionCall or request your free phone:
Visit www.captioncall.com, click on the ‘Request Phone’ button and complete and submit the online order form. Be sure to reference Promo Code ELDERCARE.