On a daily basis I work with patients who report difficulty hearing important things in their life such as hearing their spouse and many times are unable to engage in group conversations. They acknowledged that they have adopted the “smile and nod” form of communication. When I hear about these frustrations time and time again, I start sympathizing with them. At some point, you have to wonder “Why is this happening to them?” Hearing loss can have unavoidable causes such as aging, trauma, infection, etc…, but the good news is that a noise-induced hearing loss is 100% preventable.
What is noise-induced hearing loss?
A noise-induced hearing loss is both permanent and irreversible. When noise reaches a certain decibel level it can begin to damage your ears. An impulse sound, such as a gunshot, may have an immediate effect on hearing. However, other things, like an MP3 player, can start to cause damage over a certain period of time. An MP3 player can have a maximum volume of 105 decibels, and according to OSHA standards, a decibel level of this volume can start to cause damage after even just one hour of use per day.
How do we hear things?
Our hearing system is very complex when processing sound. The ear is made up of an outer, middle, and inner ear system. Inside of our inner ear resides thousands of tiny hair cells that send incoming sounds up for our brain to interpret. After we have been exposed to loud sounds those hair cells can become damaged and are not able to pick up the sounds they once could, thus causing a hearing loss.
Preventative measures can be used to help eliminate the chances of a noise induced hearing loss. These methods can include the following:
1.) Utilizing hearing protection whenever exposed to loud sounds.
2.) Turning the volume down when reaching damaging levels like when listening to music, especially through headphones.
3.) Walking away to increase the distance between yourself and the sound source.
So, why protect your ears? In addition to a noise-induced hearing loss, a hearing loss can also be caused by other factors such as ototoxic drugs, genetics, trauma, and/or aging; however, by actively protecting your ears from damage you are eliminating one of the most common causes of hearing loss today. To learn more about noise-induced hearing loss or hearing protection, please contact our office.