Noise-induced hearing loss symptoms are very rarely painful which can mislead people into the belief that they have little to no hearing damage. This can make it difficult to discern if you have experienced hearing damage as a result of exposure to loud noises or high sound levels.
Noise exposure can lead to the damage of the structures in the middle ear or acoustic trauma which can, over time, cause permanently diminished hearing.
We’re going to discuss noise-induced hearing loss symptoms and what type of noise exposure you should avoid in order to prevent them. Keep reading for more information!
What is Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?
Noise-induced hearing loss is any damage to the structures of the ear or auditory nerve that affects hearing. This type of hearing loss occurs due to exposure to high sound levels, excessive noise, high pitches, or proximity to the sound.
Severe noise-induced hearing loss is permanent and cannot be corrected by a healthcare provider. At times, its symptoms may appear temporary, but with continued or prolonged exposure, the issue can progressively worsen.
Noise-induced hearing loss may occur after being exposed to an impulse or sudden noise such as a gunshot or can happen after several hours of hearing noises above a certain decibel range.
A decibel (dB) is a unit of measurement that measures the pressure or forcefulness of sound. The louder a sound is, the more amplitude it has, increasing its number of decibels. Decibel measurements are not linear; instead, they are measured logarithmically – an increase of 10 dB is 10 times louder than the previous decibel and a 20 dB increase is 100 times louder.
Because of this, seemingly small increases in decibels can result in hearing damage or complete hearing loss if no hearing protection is used, even with limited amounts of exposure.
Continued and prolonged exposure to noises above 85 dB can cause noise-induced hearing loss; hearing a short noise at 120 dB can cause immediate noise-induced hearing loss.
For reference, a motorcycle can be as loud as 95 dB, vacuum cleaners can produce noises as loud as 70-80 dB, and a whisper might be as quiet as 30 dB. Many noises may not feel as though they’re damaging your hearing but may cause impairment in the long-run.
Signs and Symptoms of Damaged Hearing from Noise Exposure
It’s important to know what noise-induced hearing loss symptoms are because hearing damage is very rarely painful. Noise-induced hearing loss can result in health issues if left untreated, whether you notice any pain or not.
Noise-induced hearing loss will make speech and other noises sound muffled. High pitches may also be more difficult to hear; your ears may feel full or as though they’re under pressure, or you may experience ringing in your ears (tinnitus). In the rare instances that noise-induced hearing loss symptoms are painful, the pain will linger, sometimes for days due to the auditory nerve damage.
Depending on your physical orientation to the noise, one or both ears may be affected or they might be affected with differing levels of severity.
Avoiding Excessive Noise
To avoid noise-induced hearing loss, you should take care to avoid frequenting areas that are excessively loud, including restaurants, sporting events, and concerts. You should also use caution when using household appliances for extended periods of time, mowing the lawn, and even attending exercise classes with loud music.
When possible, be sure to use hearing protection to prevent noise-induced hearing loss symptoms.
You may also choose to ask someone to speak at lower volumes, turn your television, radio, or headphones down, take noise breaks, or move away from the source of the noise. Typically, any time the noise in the room requires you to raise your voice, the area is too loud and you should be wary of longer-than-necessary exposure.
These steps may not be able to reverse hearing loss due to excessive noise but can help prevent further damage to the auditory nerve.
Untreated Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
When noise-induced hearing loss is left untreated, you may begin to notice lasting signs of your inability to hear certain pitches or communicate effectively when there is background noise. Over time, people with any type of hearing loss may tend to socially isolate because of embarrassment over their condition.
Isolation can lead to depression from loneliness; anxiety may occur if you’re self-conscious of asking people to repeat themselves over the phone or in social settings. Untreated hearing loss may also cause dementia to progress at a quicker rate and lead to issues with concentration or chronic fatigue.
There are many ways to cope with noise-induced hearing loss symptoms such as asking people to speak slowly or clearly, avoiding noisy venues, paying attention to gestures and facial expressions, or choosing to wear a hearing aid.
If you choose to ignore noise-induced hearing damage symptoms, you will ultimately see a decrease in your quality of life and overall happiness.
Hearing Impairment Correction
Severe noise-induced hearing loss symptoms can be permanent and may worsen over time due to age or continued exposure to high sound levels. Because of this, you may wish to consider wearing a hearing aid to help with daily interactions.
Hearing aids are often expensive, sometimes uncomfortable, and many people dislike wearing devices that are visible. At Hearing.io, we offer affordable and comfortable hearing aids that can be customized with the level of hearing technology that you need or prefer.
If you would like to learn more about our hearing devices and how they can improve your quality of life, call us today for a consultation!