Studies show nearly everyone will experience some type of hearing loss at some point during their lives. And while some types of hearing loss may be caused by infections, diseases, anatomical defects or some other underlying medical issues, many cases of hearing loss are caused by exposure to loud noises. These are noise-induced hearing losses, and they can occur in any person and at any age, regardless of how healthy your ears are otherwise. In fact, the National Institutes of Health reports about 26 million Americans between 20 and 69 years of age have some type of noise-induced hearing loss due to work or leisure activities.
What is noise induced hearing loss?
When most of us think of hearing loss from exposure to noises, we think of people who are surrounded by loud noises nearly every day, including people who work in construction or road work. But the fact is, noise-induced hearing loss can develop as a result of exposures to far quieter or less pervasive sounds, including even occasional use of lawn mowers, leaf blowers, ATVs and snowmobiles, motorcycles, woodworking tools and those ever-present ear buds and headphones.
Noise-induced hearing loss tends to occur over time, developing so slowly, you may not notice your hearing is becoming diminished until it becomes bothersome to others – for instance, when you insist on having the TV volume turned up, or you continually ask people to repeat themselves.
How does noise-induced hearing loss occur?
Most noise-induced hearing loss occurs when tiny hair cells located inside the middle ear become damaged. These cells respond to sound waves by moving up and down and bending, which opens tiny channels at the ends of the cells. When these channels open, chemicals rush in and create reactions that cause electrical signals to occur. These signals are transmitted via the auditory nerve to the brain, where they’re interpreted as sounds. When the hair cells are damaged, the electrical signals are not produced, so sounds are not transmitted and hearing loss occurs.
How can I treat my noise-induced hearing loss?
Once the tiny hair cells are damaged or die, they cannot be repaired, nor will they grow back. That means hearing loss caused by noise must be treated in another manner. Today’s hearing aids are designed to provide an effective solution for people experiencing noise-induced hearing loss. Hearing aids not only improve noise transmission to the inner ear, but they also control the amount of noise that travels into the ear to prevent additional damage from occurring.
How can I tell if I have noise-induced hearing loss?
If you’re experiencing a hearing loss, the best way to determine the cause is to schedule a hearing exam and evaluation. Evaluations are simple and noninvasive, and they’re the first step in helping you hear better and more clearly. Call today to schedule your hearing evaluation so you can learn about all the options that are available to treat noise-induced hearing loss and other types of hearing loss as well.