What is the Connection Between Noise and Hearing Loss?

Erin J. Hill

The main connection between noise and hearing loss is that loud or high frequency noises can lead to partial or full hearing loss. This is generally the case when one is around noises for long periods of time or for short periods which occur frequently. Some evidence suggests that even a one-time exposure of very loud noises can lead to hearing loss.

Hearing loss may be avoided by wearing padded earphones at a reasonable volume versus ear buds.
Hearing loss may be avoided by wearing padded earphones at a reasonable volume versus ear buds.

Noise and hearing loss have been found to be linked after studying multiple people who worked in settings where loud noises are common. Those who work in such locations have higher instances of severe hearing loss than those who don’t. For this reason, it is recommended that those in jobs or settings where loud noises are a problem wear earplugs to avoid damage to the ear.

Protect the ear around loud noises by using headphones or ear plugs.
Protect the ear around loud noises by using headphones or ear plugs.

Those who have experienced loud noise and hearing loss should consult a doctor, since in some cases hearing can be restored or improved. Additional damage can be done if the person is around loud noises again without the use of ear plugs, and in some cases the damage is permanent. It is not common for one to lose his hearing entirely due to being around loud noises, but it is possible.

Exposure to loud noises, such as from loud music, can damage hearing over time.
Exposure to loud noises, such as from loud music, can damage hearing over time.

Routine hearing tests may be performed upon request for those who suspect hearing loss or those who work in certain jobs which require passing hearing tests. Tests are generally done using a machine which plays sounds in various volumes and frequencies to see if the patient can hear them. This allows professionals to determine how bad potential hearing loss is and which frequencies have been affected.

Prolonged exposure to loud noises, such as a jackhammer, can damage a person's hearing.
Prolonged exposure to loud noises, such as a jackhammer, can damage a person's hearing.

The main way to prevent damage from loud noise and hearing loss is to avoid noises that are too loud. Earphones should be kept at a reasonable volume, and it is recommended that foam pads be worn instead of ear buds which are worn directly in the ear. Televisions, radios, and other electronics should be kept at a reasonable noise level as well. These are the most common areas where most individuals experience hearing loss.

Even a one-time exposure to very loud noise could lead to hearing loss.
Even a one-time exposure to very loud noise could lead to hearing loss.

A very sudden and intense loud noise can burst the eardrum entirely. This is a serious injury which can cause long-term damage. Treatment should be sought immediately since hearing may be impaired and sometimes infection can set in. If one’s doctor cannot be seen, a trip to the hospital or emergency room is advised. Whether or not serious hearing difficulties will result depends on the extent of the damage.

Depending upon the type of injury, hearing loss related to noise may be temporary or permanent.
Depending upon the type of injury, hearing loss related to noise may be temporary or permanent.

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