What is your favorite sound to listen to? Is it the roar of the ocean, or maybe the voices of your grandchildren? Whatever it may be, it’s important to protect your hearing so you don’t risk losing the ability to enjoy the sounds of the world around you.
Below we review what causes noise-induced hearing loss, how prevalent it is, what the symptoms are and how it can be prevented.
What Causes Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?
Noise-induced hearing loss, as the name suggests, is the result of exposure to excessively loud noises.
Within the ears are tiny hair cells called stereocilia. Their job is to convert sound vibrations into electrical impulses that the brain interprets as sound. These cells are extremely sensitive, and when dangerously loud sounds pass through the ears, it can damage or destroy these cells. The result is permanent sensorineural hearing loss.
Any sound over 85 dB can damage the stereocilia. For reference that is about the volume of passing traffic on Interstate 635 East or a café during lunch rush.
How Common Is Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that noise-induced hearing loss is common, affecting an estimated 12.5% of children and adolescents ages 6-19 (5.2 million young people) and 17% of adults ages 20-69 (26 million adults).
In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that nearly 50% of people ages 12-35 – an estimated 1.1 billion young people – are at risk of hearing loss due to prolonged and excessive exposure to loud sounds.
What Are the Symptoms of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?
According to the CDC, the symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss include:
- Speech sounds seeming muffled
- Difficulty hearing high-pitch sounds
- Trouble understanding conversations in noisy places
- Difficulty talking on the phone
- Trouble distinguishing between certain consonants like s and f or p and t
- Having to ask people to speak slower, clearer or louder
- Frequently asking people to repeat themselves
- Turning up the TV louder than others prefer
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Hypersensitivity to certain sounds
How Can I Prevent Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?
The best way to prevent noise-induced hearing loss is to wear hearing protection when participating in noisy activities. While disposable earplugs from the drugstore are better than nothing, custom-molded earplugs from Total Hearing Care of Dallas provide superior comfort and protection. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Total Hearing Care of Dallas today.