Noise-Induced Hearing Loss: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Diagnosis

Noise-induced Hearing Loss

Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by hearing loud noises over a long period of time or being exposed to very loud noise for a short period of time such as gunshot or explosion. In a study, it was found that noise-induced hearing loss affects 17 percent of adults after repeated exposure to loud noise.(1)

How Does Noise-induced Hearing Loss Occur?

In noise-induced hearing loss, the force of sound waves affect the delicate structures of the ear. As the sound wave enters the ear, they are strong enough to shear off the tiny hair that lines the ear. These sound waves are moved by the hair, passing the signals to the brain so that the waves can be interpreted into messages.

If these tiny hair are damaged, the ability to transfer sound waves is damaged. Once damaged these hair and inner structures cannot regenerate or be repaired.

Symptoms of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can be really painful.

Sometimes it is temporary and reversible without treatment. Hearing loss caused by loud concerts and fireworks can affect ear temporarily. Still, some can have lasting hearing loss after these factors as well.

Along with a decrease in voice sensitivity, noise-induced hearing loss can lead to:

  • Feeling of fullness in the ear
  • Muffled noise
  • Ringing in the ear that is noticeable in quiet places

These symptoms can go away in minutes, hours, or in a few days. Even if these symptoms have vanished the damage still can be there. The hearing can return to normal only when enough healthy cells are left in the inner ear.

The hearing loss starts with difficulty in hearing high-pitched sounds and also not understanding speech when in the crowd. Hearing declines further as the damage goes on and then even the low-pitched sounds become hard to understand.

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss in Infants and Children

Hearing loss in children is due to the following factors:

  • Congenital cause
  • Virus
  • Middle ear fluid
  • Wax build-up

According to the World Health Organization, 60 percent of hearing loss is preventable.(2)

Noise-induced hearing loss is more painful in children than adults as they have narrow ear canals.

Risks for People with Noise-induced Hearing Loss

Hearing loss may affect health in various ways. It not just impairs hearing but also lead to the following complications:

  • Dementia
  • Mobility challenges
  • Headaches
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Social problems
  • Irritability
  • Ringing in the ear

How to Diagnose Noise-induced Hearing loss?

A physical examination and assessment of personal and family history help in diagnosing the hearing loss. The doctor examines the ear for wax build-up or any structural problem and if required refers the patient to an otolaryngologist.

There are numerous hearing tests that can help in determining the hearing loss. The hearing loss may be determined by:

  • Difficulty in hearing a sound with high-frequency
  • History of extremely high-pitched noise exposure
  • Stopping point for detection of high-frequency noise

How is Noise-induced Hearing Loss Treated?

There are hearing tools available that can help people who are experiencing noise-induced hearing loss.

Hearing Aids

Some hearing aids amplify sounds and some decrease the background noise. Hearing aids are available in many types such as ones that can sit behind the ear and some that can be fitted in the ear.

Cochlear Implants

These are surgically implanted devices that help in stimulating the auditory nerve when the natural cochlea has been damaged.

Cochlear implants are used for people with high-frequency hearing loss.

Therapy

Various therapies are available that can help a person live with hearing loss. The techniques involved lip-reading or moving conversation to a quieter place.

Sound Amplifiers

There are certain devices that amplify sounds and make them easier to be heard by a person with hearing loss.

How to Prevent Noise-induced Hearing Loss?

Noise-induced hearing loss can be prevented by avoiding extremely loud noises.

Those working in places with loud noise should protect their hearing with the following options:

  • Keep away from loud noise
  • Lower down the volume of the speakers
  • Wear protective earplugs
  • Go for regular hearing screenings

Noise-inducing hearing loss results from loud noises that cause damage to the structures in the ear. It can easily be prevented by protecting the ear from loud sounds.

Also Read: