Hearing loss is possible in any age group. It may happen suddenly, or for some, gradually. How soon one loses hearing will depend on the lifestyle, noise exposure, and intensity. A prolonged or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85dB(A) can cause hearing loss. The louder the sound, the shorter the time it takes for Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) to occur.
Whether the noise is harmful or causes hearing loss can depend on the noise’s loudness. Noise-induced hearing loss occurs when the structures in the inner ear are damaged due to loud noises. Most of the time, our environment causes noise and is prevalent in this generation. Activities like watching TV or listening to music, traffic noise, noise in the mall, and ambient conversations, at safe levels are fine. Sometimes, they tend to be very loud and can last very long, resulting in hearing problems.
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is preventable.
Noise-induced hearing loss
- Occupational – if you are working in a field where noise is high and present, it can gradually make you lose your hearing. Some occupations, such as construction, especially using heavy equipment like chipping hammers, bulldozers, and jackhammers, to name a few, can be harmful without proper noise reduction equipment. Aviation workers may also experience hearing loss due to aircraft powerplant noise, propeller noise, and pressurized system noise. Other jobs susceptible to NIHL are factory work, agriculture, carpentry, mining, oil, and gas extraction.
- Military and people exposed to explosions and gunshots can damage the structures in the ears. When this happens, it can cause immediate, severe, or permanent hearing loss. The injury requires immediate medical attention.
- Fireworks and loud music in concerts can cause temporary ringing of the ear and hearing loss. The sounds you hear may seem muffled, and the effects may take hours. Sometimes it can also last for days or several weeks. So when you are watching concerts or fireworks displays and are near speakers, you can experience the system. If you feel uncomfortable, have it checked with an audiologist immediately.
- Repeat or frequent exposure to loud or moderately loud sounds over a long period can cause permanent hearing loss. Avoidance of exposure can prevent this kind of noise. Recreational activities or hobbies such
- High-volume music with high bass
- Using of power tools like electric drills
- Household appliances such as blenders, vacuum cleaners, and lawnmowers;
- Vehicles such as motorcycles or revving up the engines.
How common is NIHL?
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mentioned that about 12% of adults aged 18-39 reported having difficulty following conversations with background noise, and about 6% experience tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
According to The World Health Organization and International Telecommunication Union 2019 document, WHO-ITU Global Standard on Safe Listening Devices and Systems, manufacturers must equip devices like smartphones and personal audio players with information that explains safe listening (for adults, a total of 40 hours of weekly exposure to volume levels no higher than 80 dB is recommended; for children, the level is 75 dB); usage warnings and tracking information; cues for taking safe listening actions; options for limiting volume levels; and volume limiters expressly for parents to use.
If you are having a hard time hearing and understanding or experiencing constant ringing in the ear, it is recommended that you visit an audiologist for a hearing assessment. You may visit any of our hearing care centers in the Philippines for a proper hearing test or you may send your questions through our contact form.