Individuals from all age groups can suffer from noise-induced hearing loss, caused due to over exposure to loud noise. The eardrums can be damaged, resulting in temporary or permanent hearing loss…
Blaring horns, loudspeakers, living in areas which have high decibels of noise, like airports, workshops, factories are all contributing factors for noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Prolonged exposure to higher decibels, more than the human ear can handle can lead to temporary hearing loss, which may become a permanent impediment in the absence of timely diagnosis and treatment. Noise pollution affects individuals from all age groups and demographies, and is a health hazard which may cause grave problems, and can be unpleasant in nature. Practicing proper precautionary measures for avoiding this auditory problem will prove to be helpful in the long run.
Causes of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Prolonged exposure to extremely high decibels (a measurement unit for sound) of noise can have undesired effects on the auditory organs and nerves. The auditory nerve is the one that enables a person to hear, and if it is damaged, then the end result is a loss in the hearing capability of that individual. The inner ear, which is a complex structure, is made up of soft tissues and richly supplied with nerves. Fluid filled tubes are also located around the inner ear. This is the most sensitive part of the ear and overtly high decibels of sound transmitted to this part can damage it. Hence, it is one of the major causes of hearing loss.
A few instances which may cause noise-induced hearing loss can be while attending a rock concert, using tools, working in a manufacturing unit, hearing a gunshot, listening to music on headsets for a long time etc. These activities produce sound which exceed 85 decibels and cause harm to the ear. The hearing loss can be temporary, and may return once the sound dies down. However, getting exposed to sounds higher the 120 decibels, like an explosion, or taking off or landing of a Concorde jet can cause instant hearing loss. A ringing sound in the ears (either or both), known as tinnitus, can also be heard after the ear is exposed to extremely high noise.
Hearing loss, induced due to noise, is mainly caused due to the damage of the tiny hair cells, which are located in the innermost section of the ear. Also referred to as sensory cells, they help in transferring sound from the external environment to the brain, which is converted as a signal, and the brain re-sends the information regarding the sound. High decibels of sound for an extensive time frame can disrupt the function and also damage the sensory hair cells. This is a permanent damage, which is irreversible and the person is deprived of hearing for the rest of his life.
Treatment for Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
It is always advisable to avoid places which have high noise levels. Plugging the ears is one way of reducing the amount of noise reaching the inner ear. An awareness regarding this health hazard, which can maim an individual for life, should be created and steps to prevent it need to be taken seriously. There are a few measures for hearing loss treatment. For temporary hearing loss, which may last for about two days, ear drops to clear the ear canal may be prescribed. Hearing aids also provide relief for correcting temporary threshold shift in individuals.
Observing even slight signs of incapability to hear properly should be reported to an otolaryngologist (ear doctor), who will check for any damage to the ear and prescribe appropriate treatment to correct the problem.