Noise-related hearing loss is extremely common. Your hearing can be permanently impaired if you spend a lot of time around noise that is over 85 dB.
What is Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?
There are tiny hair cells inside your inner ear which can be irreversibly damaged by loud noise. This is known as sensorineural hearing loss.
A gradual degeneration of hearing, eventually leading to permanent hearing loss, occurs when you are subjected to very loud noise for a long period of time. Immediate damage can also occur if you are exposed to a burst of extremely damaging noise all at once.
Work and recreational activities account for 17% of hearing loss in individuals between 20 and 69. Here are a few examples of noises that can lead to hearing loss:
- Construction equipment
- Busy Traffic
- Loud volume on earphones
- Nearby fireworks
- Jet engines
Can it be Reversed?
There is presently no remedy for noise-induced hearing loss (although scientists are working on it). If you have been exposed to a loud noise, you need to see a doctor right away, because some of the prolonged damage is due to inflammation in the ear. You may be able to limit the damage that develops by reducing swelling. Sound waves are sent to the brain by the little hair cells in the ear. If noise damages or kills them, they won’t regenerate. So once they’re gone, permanent hearing impairment is the consequence. Protecting your ears, then, should be a priority, and consulting a specialist if you are presently having hearing issues.
Research to Address The Issue
There is presently no cure for this condition. However, scientists are searching for ways to repair noise-related hearing loss. For instance, some research is in clinical trials right now that are evaluating whether a drug can restore the growth of the little hairs in the ear. Age-induced hearing loss and loud noise can harm these hairs, but regrowth would help restore hearing if researchers are able to get the drug to work.
What Hearing Remains Needs to be Protected
While hearing loss that is a result of noise cannot be restored (yet), you are capable of taking specific steps to reduce hearing loss or protect the remaining hearing that you have. Some steps you can take include:
- Stay away from areas that constantly have loud noises
- Limit your exposure to exceedingly noisy activities at home
- Take regular hearing tests
- Manage any hearing loss you have with hearing aids
- Use the proper hearing protection devices, like earplugs or earmuffs if you work in locations with persistently loud noises
Keeping the volume down on your devices, wearing ear protection, and avoiding overly loud noise is the best way to safeguard your hearing. Make an appointment for a hearing exam if you have been exposed to loud noise.