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A Complete Guide to Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

an older gentleman who is hard of hearing

We don’t appreciate our hearing until something happens to it. It’s like that with everything when it comes to our bodies. The ability to see the world, to smell, and to touch it. So, if you were able to influence your ear’s health and to ensure it lasts for as long as possible, would you do it? Of course, you would. However, noise-induced hearing loss is something that many people experience in their life, and it’s important to know about this form of hearing loss and how it can be preventable.

What is noise-induced hearing loss?

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is when there’s damage that’s been caused to the hair cells that sit inside your ear canal. It’s caused by excessive exposure to noise that is above 85 decibels. As an example, a normal conversation would be registered at around 60+, with rock concerts being at around 100. Human hair cells in the ears are something that can’t grow back, so once they’ve been damaged, it’s permanent. With noise-induced hearing loss, it can be from one event or multiple.

Physically, NIHL is caused by the damage done to the delicate hair cells inside the ear due to excessive exposure to noise. These hair cells allow your auditory nerve and your brain to work together in order to process sounds. Unlike bird or amphibian hair cells, human hair cells can’t grow back if they’re damaged or killed. 

Once they’re gone, they’re gone forever. This is something that can really affect you in many ways, and it can be from one exposure to loud noise or a series of occasions. Your ears are delicate and vulnerable, sometimes we can forget that. It’s also something that can affect both ears or perhaps just the one.

What can you do to prevent noise-induced hearing loss?

When it comes to preventing it, you first want to understand what noises could be harmful to your ears. Typical sounds of 75-80 decibels are probably the limit you should aim for, and most sounds are under this level. Conversations, as mentioned above, sit at 60. 

So how loud is too loud? Well, anything over 85, is going to have serious risks and could cause damage. Did you know that things like a lawnmower or train can be over the decibel safety level, and that is something that many might not think about when they’re mowing their lawn or watching a train go by.

To prevent noise-induced hearing loss, you want to try and look at what sits above 85 decibels when it comes to sound. Once you are aware of this, then you can go about taking the necessary precautions to take care of your hearing. Foam earplugs are a good suggestion if you’re exposing your ears on a daily or regular basis to excessive noise and sounds.

Some top tips for preventing it also are to follow the 60/60 rule, which means no volume level on an audio device should be above 60%. Take advantage of smartphone apps that can test the decibel level of sound and take a break when you’re in a room where music or sounds are happening and where they might be quite loud.

Are there signs of noise-induced hearing loss?

Some individuals might have noise-induced hearing loss and not even realize it. It’s important to be aware of the signs so that you can spot them for yourself or with a loved one. For example, a typical sign is where your ears might be ringing or muffled after a concert. 

This might not lead to permanent damage after one single incident, but it could if you’re not careful. If you can hear people but can’t quite understand what they’re saying or you have to turn up the volume on your television to hear it when others can, then these are all signs too.

It’s important to address this as soon as possible so that you can get the help you need when it comes to your hearing.

Your hearing is very important, and it’s something you want to take good care of where and whenever you can. If you have concerns regarding your hearing, then it’s always a good idea to speak to an audiologist. They can give you the best advice on what you can do to help your hearing and what options are available to you. 

Why not learn more by checking in with Hearing & Balance Centers of West Tennessee? You can give us a call at 731-660-5511 for Jackson and 901-842-4327 for Memphis.


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