Posted on: January 10, 2011
Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) results from damage to the hair cells in the inner ear (cochlea). Once these cells are damaged they do not regenerate. The result of such damage includes decreased hearing for soft sound, decreased speech clarity, and difficulty hearing in noise. Prolonged exposure to noise over 85 dB can result in permanent NIHL. As sound level doubles (every 3 dB) the safe exposure time is halved. Sounds over 120 dB can cause damage even after very brief exposure. Some concerts can reach this level.
Noise damage is often cumulative, resulting from long term exposure to moderate and loud sounds such as industrial machinery or music. It can also occur after a single exposure to a very loud sound such as and explosion or gun shot. The effects of noise exposure are permanent.
The best “cure” for NIHL is prevention
There are several things you can do to prevent NIHL:
- Turn down the volume on mp3 and other music players. If you cannot hear and fully understand the person speaking next to you, the volume is too loud.
- Wear hearing protection when exposed to loud noise at work, concerts and sporting events or when using noisy tools both at home and work.
- Limit the amount of time you are exposed to loud noise