Noise-Induced Hearing Loss and Its Prevention

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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.

What's more, potentially harmful noise is not necessarily unpleasant or unwanted. For example, the music at a concert and the pounding of a jackhammer on the street can be equally damaging to the inner ear. The reason for this is that any sounds (acoustic energies) delivered with equal intensity, 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 1/17/2014

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Noise Induced Hearing Loss - Identifying Symptoms Question: Describe your symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss, or those in a friend or relative.
Noise Induced Hearing Loss - On the Job Question: Do you wear a hearing protection device for your job? Does it help? Please share your experience.
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