Noise Induced Hearing Loss
Loud noises at extended exposures can cause noise induced hearing loss. This can happen everyday in traffic, wearing headphone, working with power equipment and many other loud devices. Some sounds can be damaging even over shorter time periods if they are very loud like firecrackers, sirens, or rock music. These noises can damage sensitive structures in your inner ear. This damage could be immediate or take time to show up. Also, it can be temporary or permanent. If has been months or years since you could not hear everything clearly, then maybe you should contact Lansdowne Hearing for a free checkup.
What is noise induced hearing loss?
It might first be a good idea to understand the hearing process which is simplified below:
- Someone talks and it enters your outer ear and down your ear canal to your eardrum.
- The eardrum vibrates like a drum and these vibrations are carried to the middle ear tiny bones called the ossicles. These three bones are like the pistons of a combustion engine.
- The third bone in the middle ear is connected to the cochlea in the inner ear. So the speech that the bones are now propagating now gets transferred to the cochlea by the third bone in the middle ear.
- This action happens in the basilar membrane (part of the cochlea) in the inner ear. The third bone actually vibrates against the tiny hair cells in the basilar membrane.
- This movement of the tiny hair is mechanical, but this is transferred into chemical information and then an electrical signal.
- The electrical signal now takes a ride up the auditory nerve to the brain which processes the signal into the person’s voice who was speaking to you.
This is beyond amazing and the human apparatus that conduct all this “hearing” could be compiled in a space about the size of a quarter. Now you know why this is so delicate and why sustained loud noises can really damage this delicate, tiny part of your body that resides in your head. So even though you can lift hundreds of pounds in your lifetime, “loud sounds” which do not weigh anything, can mess up your hearing.
Weights are measured in pounds but noise is measured in db (decibels) which don’t weight anything. 85 db is the threshold level where damage can start happening. Whether long or repeated exposure at 85 db or more, you could experience noise induced hearing loss. Obviously, the louder the sound (hard rock concerts), the shorter the amount of time it takes for noise induced hearing loss to effect you. Your distance from the speakers at the rock concerts and time of exposure are big factors in protecting your delicate, hearing system.
A general idea for hearing protection is avoid noises that are:
- Too loud
- Last too long
- Too close to you
Remember, hunting, shooting skeet, wearing earbuds or headphones, playing musical instruments or being in a band, using leaf blower and snow mobiles can cause noise induced hearing loss.
But it is time to relax, since Lansdowne Hearing can help you hear clearly again if you have noise induced hearing loss. Take a look at some funny excuses people have for losing their hearing aids.
Hearing loss types: