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How Does Loud Noise Cause Hearing Loss?

  • May 8, 2023
  • 3 min read
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How Does Loud Noise Cause Hearing Loss?

For many of us, loud noise is just part of everyday life. Unfortunately, our hearing doesn’t always come out unscathed. If we don’t take precautions to properly protect ourselves from excessively loud noises, this kind of sound exposure can lead to hearing loss over time, a condition which affects millions around the world. In this post, we’ll discuss how noisy environments can cause damage and provide some tips for safeguarding your ears from too much sound.

  1. Damaged Hair Cells

The human ear is lined with fine, delicate hairs called stereocilia. These tiny structures are responsible for converting sound waves into signals that our brains can understand. Unfortunately, when exposed to loud noise levels over a length of time, these delicate hairs become damaged and stop functioning properly, resulting in hearing loss.

The threshold at which these hairs start to become damaged is 85 decibels (dB). This means that any sound over this level has the potential to cause damage. Common places where we are exposed to sounds of this volume include: nightclubs, concerts, sporting events, construction sites and even loud conversations in a public place.

  1. Nerve Damage

Nerves are responsible for carrying sound signals from the ears to the brain, but you may wonder what nerve carries auditory impulses to the brain. The answer is the cochlear nerve. This nerve can also become damaged from exposure to loud sounds, resulting in hearing loss. In extreme cases, the damage can be so extensive that even a hearing aid will not be able to provide relief. You can test how loud your environment is with a decibel meter. Anything over 85 dB should be considered too loud for prolonged exposure, as this is where hair cell damage starts to occur.

  1. Eardrum Damage

The eardrum is the barrier between the outer and inner ear, and it helps to protect our delicate auditory systems from damage. However, loud sounds can cause this membrane to rupture, resulting in hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). It’s best to avoid any sounds over 100 dB, as these are particularly damaging to the eardrum. Earache is one of the most common symptoms of ear drum damage. If you find yourself frequently experiencing this, it could be a sign that your environment is too loud.

Prevention

A good way to protect your ears from loud noise is to invest in ear protection such as earplugs or noise-canceling headphones. Wear them whenever you anticipate being exposed to excessive sound levels, as this can help to minimize the risk of damage and hearing loss.

You should also have regular hearing tests if you work in a noisy environment, as this can help to catch any early warning signs of hearing damage. Ideally, you should also limit your exposure to loud sounds by avoiding places where sound levels are likely to be high. Taking a few simple steps like these can go a long way towards protecting your hearing from further damage.

Loud noise has the potential to cause permanent and irreversible damage to our ears, so it’s important that we take steps to protect ourselves from excessive sound exposure. By understanding how noise-induced hearing loss occurs and following the tips outlined above, you can help to safeguard your ears for years to come.

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