13 Apr Noise-induced hearing loss is irreversible
Exposure to loud sounds for any length of time causes fatigue of the ear’s sensory cells. The result is temporary hearing loss or tinnitus (a ringing sensation in the ear). A person enjoying a loud concert may come out experiencing “muffled” hearing or tinnitus. The hearing improves as the sensory cells recover. When the exposure is particularly loud, regular or prolonged, it can cause permanent damage to the sensory cells and other structures, resulting in an irreversible hearing loss. The high-frequency range (i.e. high-pitched sounds) is impacted first and may not be noticeable immediately. Continued exposure leads to progression of hearing loss, ultimately affecting speech comprehension and having a negative impact on the individual’s quality of life.
Some people may be more susceptible to noise-induced hearing loss than others. Genetic predisposition, chronic conditions such as diabetes and exposure to cigarette smoke are known to increase the risk of acquiring noise-induced hearing loss. Because we cannot tell who the most susceptible individuals are, prevention is the most effective way to avoid such hearing loss.
Noise-induced hearing loss can affect many aspects of life, including a person’s social and educational development and their ability to work. Children and adults who live in noisy environments may face increased psychological stress and anxiety.
In Young children, noise-induced hearing loss hinders language acquisition. Learning disabilities, anxiety and attention-seeking behaviors are also common outcomes of hearing loss. Chronic noise exposure in classrooms can impede academic performance in areas such as reading ability, comprehension, short and long-term memory, and motivation. On average, children who are exposed to noisy learning environments have lower assessment scores on standardized tests.
Noise exposure in young people also contributes to age-related hearing loss. Inadequate hearing protection during activities such as shooting firearms or listening to loud music during adolescence may lead to significant communication difficulties much later in life.
Listening to devices with earphones can also be unsafe in additional ways. For example, use during walking or cycling decreases auditory perception and increases the listener’s chances of being involved in a collision.
By using earplugs, we can protect our hearing, reducing the sound below the 80dB.
Source: World Health Organization