Noise-Induced Hearing Loss and Its Prevention

  • Medical Author:
    James K. Bredenkamp, MD, FACS

    Dr. Bredenkamp recieved his medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. He then went on to serve a six year residency at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine in the department of Surgery.

  • Medical Author: Frederick B Gaupp, MD
  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Tips for Treating Ear Infections

What is the importance of noise-induced hearing loss?

The industrial and technological revolution may have propelled society to higher levels of achievement, but this progress has also made the world a noisier place in which to live. In fact, noise pollution is a growing health hazard and can be found almost everywhere. Car alarms, leaf blowers, gunshots, boom boxes, and traffic congestion fill our cities with decibels (the measure of sound intensity). Escaping to the country may not provide a quiet refuge, and even farmers are at high risk for exposure to noise from their farm machinery.

Unpleasant or unwanted sounds are not the only harmful noises to which we may be exposed. For example, the music at a concert and the pounding of a jackhammer on the street can be equally damaging to the inner ear. Loud sounds (acoustic energies) delivered with equal intensity or over extended periods of time, regardless of their source, are equally dangerous. Eventually, continued or repeated exposures to high intensity sound can cause acoustic trauma to the ear. This trauma can result in hearing loss, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), and occasional dizziness (vertigo), as well as non-auditory effects, such as increases in heart rate and blood pressure.

One-third of the 30 million Americans with hearing loss have an impairment that is at least partially attributed to excessive noise exposure. Noise remains the most common preventable cause of irreversible sensorineural (involving the ear's sensory nerve) hearing loss.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/25/2015

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