Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Noise-induced hearing loss, or NIHL, occurs when the sensitive structures of the inner ear are damaged, causing a loss in hearing. There are multiple potential causes of noise-induced hearing loss. Hearing loss from NIHL can happen immediately, or it can progress gradually over time. NIHL can be temporary or permanent. One thing is clear though: noise-induced hearing loss can be prevented. Despite this, it is growing at an exponential rate, affecting millions of people. 

The Rise of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

One of the problems with NIHL is that it doesn’t always occur as an immediate consequence of exposure to loud noise. It can happen over a period of time. Our increasingly loud environment is another reason that NIHL is a growing problem. Everything from our televisions to our music, household appliances, power tools, even traffic can, over time, damage our ears.

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Statistics

In 2017, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) carried out a study aiming to identify the prevalence of noise-induced hearing loss. The research found that an estimated one in four (or 24%) of U.S. adults aged 20 to 69 show signs of noise-induced hearing loss. This would translate into anywhere from 10 million – 40 million adults in the U.S. have noise-induced hearing loss.

Know Your Noise Levels

Understanding dangerous levels of noise is the first preventative measure to avoid NIHL. The NIDCD outlines that prolonged exposure to noise over 85 decibels (dB) can cause gradual hearing loss. This translates into the average noise of a lawnmower. To help quantify, here are some common sounds that you may be exposed to: 

  • The hum of a refrigerator: 45 decibels
  • Normal conversation: 60 decibels
  • Heavy city traffic: 85 decibels
  • Motorcycles: 90 decibels
  • Sirens: 120 decibels
  • Firecrackers and firearms: 150 decibels

Preventing Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

It’s not always possible to avoid exposure to loud noises entirely. But you can still take steps to reduce the risks. Ensure you wear appropriate hearing protection when you are going to be exposed to dangerous noise levels. Headphones and earplugs are both effective tools to help reduce the risks.

Trust the Experts at Regional Hearing and Balance Center 

There are many types of hearing protection available. If you’d like to discuss hearing protection that is appropriate for you, the hearing care professionals at Regional Hearing and Balance Center can help. Contact us today to request your appointment with our hearing care professionals.

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The purpose of this hearing assessment and/or demonstration is for hearing wellness and to determine if the consumer may benefit from using hearing aids, which may include selling and fitting hearing aids. Products demonstrated may differ from products sold. Assessment conclusion is not a medical diagnosis and further testing may be required to diagnose hearing loss. The use of any hearing aid may not fully restore normal hearing and does not prevent future hearing loss. Hearing instruments may not meet the needs of all hearing-impaired individuals.