Hearing loss is something that millions of people experience all over the world. Though it often impacts certain people more significantly, it is something that impacts all kinds of people. There are various different kinds of hearing loss that can be triggered by a number of different factors. Hearing loss can be a result of everything from injuries to ear infections to certain types of medication to complications at birth to neurological conditions.

However, there is one form of hearing loss that is probably more common than any others and that is hearing loss that results from exposure to loud noises. This form of hearing loss, known as noise-induced hearing loss, is one that impacts many people and often it's the sort of things people don't even realize that they're experiencing until it has become quite severe.

In this article, we will discuss what exactly noise-induced hearing loss is, who is most commonly affected by it, what directly causes it and how you can go about preventing it in the first place.

What is noise-induced hearing loss?

We experience sound in our environment all the time. This can be everything from normal conversation to traffic and household appliances. Most of the time these sounds are at safe levels and won't do any harm to your hearing. However, if sounds become too loud, even for a short period of time, they can potentially cause harm to your hearing due to their ability to damage the sensitive structures of the inner ear.

For some people, noise-induced hearing loss can be very sudden or it can take a long time to become noticeable at all. It can be temporary or permanent. Even if it doesn't initially seem like there has been any damage to your hearing, you could still find that you are impacted by hearing loss in the future.

Who experiences noise-induced hearing loss?

One of the most important things to remember about noise-induced hearing loss is that it can impact just about anyone. This is because exposure to harmful noise levels can happen at any age. This means that children, teens, young adults and older people can all develop hearing loss from environmental factors. It is thought that at least 10 million adults in the U.S. under the age of 70 have signs of some kind of hearing loss brought about by exposure to loud noises. Likewise, as many as 17% of teenagers show signs of noise-induced hearing loss in one or both ears.

What causes noise-induced hearing loss?

There is an assumption that you need to be exposed to very high-volume sounds for an extended period to experience any form of noise-induced hearing loss, but this simply is not the case. A single exposure to an intense sound such as an explosion or gunshot can cause hearing loss. Exposure to some continuous sounds that are less significant like the noise generated when working in construction or manufacturing can also lead to hearing loss.

Likewise, recreational activities that produce loud noises can increase your risk of hearing loss as well. Even something like listening to music through headphones at high volume can put you at risk of hearing loss. Typically, any sound below 70 a-weighted decibels (dBA) are unlikely to cause any kind of hearing loss, even after long exposure. However, extended exposure to sounds at or above 85 dBA can result in hearing loss. The higher the dBA level of a sound, the short the time it takes to cause damage to your hearing.

How can you avoid noise-induced hearing loss?

Unlike many other kinds of hearing loss, noise-induced hearing loss is entirely preventable. The best way to make sure that you are able to protect yourself from noise-induced hearing loss is to make sure that you're protecting your ears and your hearing. There are multiple ways to do this. You can make sure you know which noises can cause damage to your hearing. 

You can wear earplugs any time that you are involved in any activity that could involve loud noises that have the potential to cause hearing loss. Not only that but it is always a good idea to have your hearing checked and tested as regularly as possible. This is particularly true for those who are in loud environments but applies to just about everyone.

If you are concerned about noise-induced hearing loss, or any other forms of hearing loss, the best thing that you can do is to get in touch with the Brentwood Hearing Center by calling us today at 615-377-0420.