Noise-induced hearing loss is exceptionally common. If you are continuously exposed to noise that exceeds 85 decibels, your hearing may be irreversibly impaired.
What is Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?
There are tiny hair cells inside your inner ear which can be irreversibly harmed by loud noise. This is known as sensorineural hearing loss.
Noise-induced hearing loss can be caused by long-term exposure to very high levels of noise, which leads to a gradual decline of your hearing. It can also be caused by a single event of a loud burst of sound that can instantly cause loss of hearing.
Work and recreational activities account for 17% of hearing loss in people between 20 and 69. Here are a few examples of noises that can lead to hearing loss:
- Busy Traffic
- Jet engines
- Construction equipment
- Nearby fireworks
- Loud headphoness
Is it Reversible?
There is presently no cure for noise-related hearing loss (although scientists are hard at work on it). If you’ve been exposed to a loud noise, you should see a doctor as soon as possible, because some of the prolonged damage is due to inflammation in the ear. If you could decrease the inflammation you might be able to reduce some lasting damage. Waves of sound are sent to the brain by the little hair cells inside of the ear. If noise damages or kills them, they won’t regenerate. So once they are gone, permanent hearing loss is the result. Protecting your ears, then, should be top priority, and seeing a specialist if you are presently having hearing trouble.
Addressing The Issue With Research
There is currently no cure for this condition. However, scientists are looking for ways to repair noise-induced hearing loss. For instance, some research is in clinical trials right now that are evaluating whether a drug can repair the growth of the tiny hairs in the ear. Age-induced hearing loss and loud noise can damage these hairs, but restoration would help repair hearing if scientists are capable of getting the drug to work.
Safeguard Your Remaining Hearing
Noise related hearing loss can’t be cured but if you take certain steps to safeguard your ears, the hearing you have left can be preserved into the future. Some steps you can take include:
- When you’re at home, minimize your exposure to excessively loud activities
- If you work in an occupation that has persistently loud noise, use the recommended hearing protection
- Whatever your hearing loss may be, hearing aids could be the solution
- Get tested regularly
- If there are areas that always have loud noise – stay away from them
Lowering the volume on your devices, using ear protection, and avoiding overly loud noise is the best way to safeguard your hearing. Schedule a hearing exam if you have been exposed to loud noise.