Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Every day, we experience sound in our environment, such as the sounds from television and radio, household appliances, and traffic. Normally, these sounds are at safe levels that don’t damage our hearing. But sounds can be harmful when they are too loud.

What Is Noise Induced hearing loss?

Every day, we experience sound in our environment, such as the sounds from television and radio, household appliances, and traffic. Normally, these sounds are at safe levels that don’t damage our hearing. But sounds can be harmful when they are too loud, even for a brief time, or when they are both loud and long-lasting. These sounds can damage sensitive structures in the inner ear and cause noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).

Every day, we experience sound in our environment, such as the sounds from television and radio, household appliances, and traffic. Normally, these sounds are at safe levels that don’t damage our hearing. But sounds can be harmful when they are too loud, even for a brief time, or when they are both loud and long-lasting. These sounds can damage sensitive structures in the inner ear and cause noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).

Who Is Affected by NIHL?

Exposure to harmful noise can happen at any age. People of all ages, including children, teens, young adults, and older people, can develop NIHL. Based on a 2011-2012 CDC study involving hearing tests and interviews with participants, at least 10 million adults (6 percent) in the U.S. under age 70—and perhaps as many as 40 million adults (24 percent)—have features of their hearing test that suggest hearing loss in one or both ears from exposure to loud noise. Researchers have also estimated that as many as 17 percent of teens (ages 12 to 19) have features of their hearing test suggestive of NIHL in one or both ears (Pediatrics 2011), based on data from 2005-2006.

What Causes NIHL?

NIHL can be caused by a one-time exposure to an intense “impulse” sound, such as an explosion, or by continuous exposure to loud sounds over an extended period of time, such as noise generated in a woodworking shop.
Recreational activities that can put you at risk for NIHL include target shooting and hunting, snowmobile riding, listening to MP3 players at high volume through earbuds or headphones, playing in a band, and attending loud concerts. Harmful noises at home may come from sources including lawnmowers, leaf blowers, and woodworking tools.
Sound is measured in units called decibels. Sounds at or below 70 A-weighted decibels (dBA), even after long exposure, are unlikely to cause hearing loss. However, long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 dBA can cause hearing loss. The louder the sound, the shorter the amount of time it takes for NIHL to happen.

Here Are the Average Decibel Ratings of Some Familiar Sounds:

Normal conversation: 60-70 dBA
Movie theater: 74-104 dBA
Motorcycles and dirt bikes: 80-110 dBA
Music through headphones at maximum volume, sporting events, and concerts: 94-110 dBA
Sirens: 110-129 dBA
Fireworks show: 140-160 dBA

Your distance from the source of the sound and the length of time you are exposed to the sound are also important factors in protecting your hearing. A good rule of thumb is to avoid noises that are too loud, too close, or last too long.

Tinnitus retraining therapy and noise induced hearing loss

Tinnitus activities treatment (TAT) is a clinical adaptation of TRT that focuses on four areas: thoughts and emotions, hearing and communication, sleep, and concentration.
Progressive tinnitus management (PTM) is a 5-step structured clinical protocol for management of tinnitus which may include tinnitus retraining therapy. The five steps are:

triage determining appropriate referral, i.e., audiology, ENT, emergency medical intervention, or mental health evaluation;
audiologic evaluation of hearing loss, tinnitus, hyperacusis and other symptoms;
group education about causes and management of tinnitus;
interdisciplinary evaluation of tinnitus.

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