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.