Every day we are exposed to multiple sounds. These are at safe levels and do not damage our hearing. But sounds can be harmful if they are extremely loud. Such sounds can damage the sensory system, the inner ear, and cause noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).
NIHL can be immediate or gradual and also temporary or permanent. It can also affect either one or both ears. People of any age can develop NIHL.
NIHL can be caused by sudden one-time exposure to an intense impulse sound like an explosion or by continuous exposure to loud sounds over a while such as during noisy work, longer use of personal listening devices, etc. Repeated exposure to any sounds greater than 85dBA can cause NIHL in an individual. The distance from the sound source and the length of time we are exposed to the sound are also important factors in protecting our hearing.
When we are exposed to loud sounds, we may slowly start losing hearing. Because it is mostly gradual, we might not notice it until it starts becoming more significant. Over time sounds may become distorted or muffled and we will find it difficult to understand other people talking and might even feel like turning up the TV volume. Damage from NIHL when combined with aging can lead to hearing loss, so you might visit a hearing aid center to seek help for hearing, communicating, and participating in daily activities.
NIHL is the only type of hearing loss that is completely preventable. If we understand the hazards of noise and can practice good hearing health, then we can protect our hearing for life. Here are some tips to protect hearing:
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