Tag: hearing

Understanding noise-induced hearing loss

Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Understanding Hearing Loss


Hearing loss is more common than you may think. In fact, more than 5 percent of the world’s population struggles with it. That includes 432 million adults and 34 million children.

While natural aging, injury, illness, and infection often cause hearing loss, one of the leading causes is noise-induced hearing loss. 

What is noise-induced hearing loss? 

You guessed it. Noise-induced hearing loss is simply caused by overexposure to loud noises. Attending concerts and music festivals, listening to your stereo or earphones too loud, shooting firearms, and working with power tools are common causes for hearing loss. Recreational activities like snowmobiling, boating, or setting off fireworks are also dangerous to your hearing health.  

Noise-induced hearing loss can happen immediately or gradually. Constant exposure to loud noises for significant periods of time will impact your hearing over time. However, it only takes a second for your hearing to be permanently damaged by something like the sound of a gunshot. 

How loud is too loud? 

Volume is measured in decibels (dB). Specifically, sounds under 85 dB are considered safe, while sounds over 85 dB can damage your inner ear. As you may expect, the louder the sound, the greater chances you have of developing hearing loss.  

While several decibel meter apps are available, most people cannot easily identify the decibel of all the sounds they are exposed to. Here are some common sounds and their estimated decibel measurements to give you a better idea: 

  • Normal conversation – 60 dB
  • City traffic – 88 dB
  • Noisy restaurant – 90 dB
  • Motorcycle – 97 dB
  • Chainsaw – 110 dB
  • Concert – 120 dB
  • Jet taking off – 140 dB

A ringing or buzzing in your ears is a clear indication that the sounds around you have been too loud. 

How to prevent noise-induced hearing loss

The good news is noise-induced hearing loss can be prevented. Hearing protection is a top priority for maintaining your hearing. While none of the following recommendations are foolproof, they will minimize our risk of experiencing hearing loss in the future: 

  1. Avoid noisy environments: Be aware of the noise around you. For instance, when attending a concert, avoid sitting close to the speakers and take breaks away from the music. 
  2. Turn your music down: Earphones pose some of the greatest risks to our hearing. Keep the volume below 60 percent of the maximum volume. Noise-canceling headphones are a great way to minimize the noise around you so you don’t have to turn the volume up too loud.
  3. Wear protective equipment: Whether you work in the music, construction, manufacturing, or another noisy industry, be sure you’re wearing the proper hearing protection, like earplugs or earmuffs, if you’re exposed to loud sounds consistently. Walmart usually carries foam earplugs and muffs in their hunting section. You can also get custom musician’s earplugs that filter out the bad noise but allow you to hear and appreciate the music. 

However, if you’re unable to prevent noise-induced hearing loss, you don’t have to live with it. 

Treating noise-induced hearing loss

Hearing devices and cochlear implants are commonly used to treat noise-induced hearing loss.  

A hearing device or aid is a small electronic device that you wear in or behind your ear. It amplifies some sounds so that you can listen, communicate, and participate more in daily communication. Selecting the right hearing device is the key to effectively treating your hearing loss. There are a variety of manufacturers, styles, and strengths available on the market. Our audiologist will meet with you for a hearing aid consultation to discuss your preferences and explain the different hearing aid styles and features. 

While hearing aids amplify sounds so they may be detected by damaged ears, cochlear implants bypass damaged portions of the ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve. The implant consists of an exterior microphone, a speech processor, a transmitter and receiver/stimulator, and an electrode array, which is a group of electrodes that collects the impulses from the stimulator and sends them to different regions of the auditory nerve. A cochlear implant does not restore hearing loss, but it can provide a useful representation of sounds and help patients understand speech. 

Discover how the team at ExcelENT of Alabama can help manage your ear, nose, and throat symptoms.

Contact ExcelENT of Alabama to discuss your symptoms and create a treatment plan. 

3 ways to protect your hearing

Hearing Loss OPT

What did you say?
Can you repeat that one more time?

It is one thing if you have a moment of not being able to hear, but what if you are constantly asking the aforementioned questions? Then, you might be one of 48 million people living in the United States suffering from hearing loss.

Fortunately, our team at Excel ENT of Alabama is here to help you when suffering from any form of hearing loss, including ear infections, tinnitus, and Eustachian Tube Dysfunction (ETD).

Preventing Hearing Loss

One of the best ways to treat hearing loss is to prevent it from occurring in the first place, especially as we age. While nothing is 100% and sometimes hearing loss just happens as we grow older, there are certain steps we can take in order to try to reduce our risk of experiencing hearing loss in the future.

Let’s take a look at some ways we can prevent damage to our hearing as we age, starting with:

Listen While You Work!

Are you exposed to loud noises at work? Precautions should be taken in order to reduce the amount of noise at your job as best as possible for your protection and the protection of your hearing.

Be sure you are wearing the proper hearing protection like earplugs or ear muffs while at work, as well as take breaks from being exposed to the loud noise for long periods of time. If possible, try to discuss with upper management about the ability to switch to quieter equipment in the future.

Play Your Music—Just Not So Loud!

We have all been guilty of turning up the stereo louder than we should to listen to our favorite song. However, it can cause more damage to our hearing than we realize.

In addition, earphones and headphones pose some of the greatest risks to our hearing since they play music so close to our eardrum. Therefore, it is important to take action when listening to your music so that you are not damaging your hearing at the same time.

If you do need to use earphones or headphones to listen to music, try to use the noise-cancelling kind so that you don’t have to keep turning up the volume to block out the noise coming from the outside.

Best practice when listening to music is to not listen to it at more than 60% of the maximum volume, as well as take a break every hour for five minutes.

Undergo a Hearing Test

According to the American Speech-Language Association, adults should have their hearing tested at a minimum of every 10 years. However, once you reach the age of 50, it is best to start scheduling a hearing test every three years to ensure your hearing is being maintained as you age.

At Excel ENT of Alabama, our experienced and knowledgeable audiologist, Dr. Helen Lee Miles, is here to help patients protect and maintain their hearing. During the thorough hearing evaluation, which takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes, you will undergo an otoscopy (where Dr. Miles will look in your ears to determine any abnormalities), a pressure test, a speech test, and a tonal testing, which is where you will listen to a series of tones at different decimals.

You don’t have to live with hearing loss. Our team is here to help you get your hearing back and improve your quality of life!