Whether temporary or permanent, hearing loss may be attributed to a wide range of issues. However, noise-induced hearing loss is unquestionably one of the most common causes, even if individuals who experience hearing loss don’t always appreciate it.

While visiting an audiologist is the best way to gain a correct diagnosis and discover the best treatment plan, it’s important to familiarize yourself with how and why loud noises could harm your hearing. Here’s everything you need to know.

How Loud Does a Noise Have to Be to Cause Damage?

Experts at Centers for Disease Control (CDC) state that exposure to noise levels under 70 decibels (dBs) is unlikely to cause any damage. Once noise levels surpass 80dBs, though, prolonged exposure can lead to damage. For example, 50 minutes of exposure to motorcycle noises may lead to damage while shouting in the ear could cause damage in as little as two minutes.

This type of hearing loss is commonly referred to as noise-induced hearing loss. It can cause either permanent or temporary hearing loss.

How Does Loud Noise Damage Your Hearing?

In many cases, noise-induced hearing loss occurs over the course of several years, especially in people who are regularly exposed to noises that are only just above 80dBs. However, it is possible for a single instance of a loud bang to cause hearing loss. This could start out as temporary ringing in the ears after a loud explosion but could result in permanent hearing loss that gradually worsens over time.

Loud noises commonly damage your hearing in one of two ways. Firstly, they can damage the tiny hair cells located in the cochlea. The average person has around 16,000 hair cells in the cochlea and up to half of those can be damaged before hearing loss occurs.

However, exposure to loud sounds causes them to bend. In some cases, they will recover. In instances where cells die, though, this will contribute to hearing loss. Everyone loses some of their inner ear hair cells during their lifetime. The problem is that they cannot repair themselves. So, once you experience hearing loss, the best you can do is learn to manage the situation.

The other way that loud noises harm your hearing is by damaging the auditory nerve that is responsible for carrying sounds to the brain. This won’t always show up on hearing tests and may be referred to as hidden hearing loss. The most common symptom is when you struggle to follow speech or group conversations.

Treating Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

When you experience hearing loss, it is important to find an appropriate treatment irrespective of the root cause. For noise-induced conditions, it’s likely that hearing aids will be the best solution. An audiologist will confirm this after your hearing examinations and an accurate diagnosis while they can also help you find the right devices for your needs.

Meanwhile, anyone who works in noisy environments or will be exposed to loud noises can use a range of ear defense products to protect the cochlea and prevent future damage.

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