Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is a type of hearing loss that occurs when individuals are exposed to excessive amounts of loud noise, either all at once or more likely over an extended period of time. The damage from noise-induced hearing loss occurs in the inner ear where the structures termed “hair cells” transfer sound waves into electrical signals, that are then transferred to the brain for processing.
Noise Induced Hearing Loss Causes
The ears are very sensitive parts of the body and can be easily affected or damaged without a person noticing what is happening within the system. Noise induced hearing loss can be the result of a one-time exposure to an intense sound like an explosion. NIHL can also be caused by exposure to loud noises over an extended period of time, such as working in factories, around jets, or with landscaping equipment.
Decibels are the measurement of sound and its intensity. When the decibel level increases by ten, it indicates that the sound is ten times more powerful than a previously measured sound. A normal conversation usually falls around 60 decibels, while appliances can run around 45 decibels. Fireworks, firearms, and motorcycles can be some of the biggest sources of noise-induced hearing loss since they register at over 120 decibels. Research has shown that repeated exposure to sounds, measuring over 85 decibels can induce hearing loss. This is important to consider when playing music, listening to music, and working or being in loud places continuously. Even sounds less than 75 decibels can result in hearing loss after long-term exposure.
Noise Induced Hearing Loss Treatment
The most common method of treatment for noise-induced hearing loss is the use of hearing aids that amplify sounds to make them recognizable to the person suffering from NIHL. These aids are available in many different models including the “invisible”, in the canal, half shell, in the ear, behind the ear, and open fit models. The variations in models exist due to different sizes in the ears, comfort levels for users, prices and the specialization needed for each type of hearing disorder. Hearing aids can be very expensive and just for the device alone without consultation the price can easily run in the thousands of dollars.
There is some evidence behind taking high doses of magnesium for several days immediately following the exposure to loud noises. This treatment can be harmful since high levels of magnesium can be toxic to the body. High magnesium diets are also recommended as a preventative measure for noise induced hearing loss, as it is always better to prevent than to try and treat afterwards.
While noise induced hearing loss can sometimes be treated, it’s often a life-changing disorder that can get worse with time. The best way to treat this condition is to prevent it in the first place. The best ways to go about this are to adapt to the current surrounds to ensure hearing safety. If a person works at a music venue or plays loud instruments like the electric guitar or drums, it’s best to wear hearing protection at times these instruments will be played. Ear plugs have revolutionized hearing protection. These are also recommended for jobs where loud noises are constantly present, such as jobs around construction sites, landscaping, and others involving loud equipment.
One of the best policies to use when doing any activity is that if a person feels any discomfort in their ears when around a noise, then it’s best either to move away from the sound or get some hearing protection against it. It’s best to also keep music at reasonable levels in the home, ear buds, or automobile. These are the best ways to protect hearing to prevent the likelihood of experiencing noise-induced hearing loss.