Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by repeated exposure to excessive noise over time. This type of hearing loss occurs when the hair-like nerve cells inside the cochlea of the inner ear are eventually damaged. You are more likely to experience this type of hearing loss if you:  

  • Work daily with noisy equipment, such as compressed air hammers or pneumatic drills
  • Work in noisy environments, such as nightclubs or certain manufacturing plants 
  • Consistently listen to music at a higher noise level than what is considered normal  

Noise-induced hearing loss can also result from an exceptionally loud sound like an explosion. This type of hearing impairment is also referred to as acoustic trauma.  

The ear is a fragile structure that can be damaged in several ways. Therefore, it is not always possible to prevent hearing loss. The risk of suffering from noise-induced hearing loss depends on the volume of a noise and the overall exposure to the noise over time. Audiologists concur that continued exposure to sounds at or over 85dB (decibels) (similar to the sound emitted by loud traffic) can lead to hearing impairments.   

How to reduce the risk of noise-induced hearing loss

Happily, by following the measures below, you can reduce your risk of suffering from noise-induced hearing difficulties.  

  • Make sure you turn down the volume on electronics, radios and TVs. If you are unable to hold a conversation with someone who is about three arms’ lengths of distance away from you, then you need to turn down the volume of your TV, radio or similar electronic devices. 
  • Use noise protection equipment, such as earplugs. If you work in a noisy environment, such as a pub, building site, nightclub, or restaurant, keep your ears protected with noise-reducing earplugs. Earplugs should also be worn at events, such as concerts and motor racing competitions, where a high noise level exists.  
  • Avoid inserting objects into your ears to keep them protected 
  • Be aware that ear infections or certain conditions can lead to a loss of hearing

Other Causes of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss:  

  • Sensorineural damage: Noise-induced hearing loss is the result of sensorineural damage. Over time, nerve cells or the auditory nerve can be damaged. Thus, the damage affects your ability to hear when you are old. Sensorineural hearing loss can also occur as the result of a genetic abnormality or viral infections in the inner ear such as the measles or the mumps. Viral infections of the auditory nerves, such as rubella or the mumps, can also affect a person’s ability to hear permanently.   
  • Hearing loss due to injury: A noise-induced loss of hearing can also result from a mishap, such as a crash or explosion. Whatever the reason for the loss may be, it is important to fix it as soon as it is recognized so you can communicate on a regular basis and hear normally. 

Noise-induced hearing loss is usually preventable if you take the proper measures to protect your hearing. Remember, avoid extremely loud, volatile noises, in addition to prolonged exposure to semi-noisy surroundings.