Noise Induced Hearing Loss - Identifying Symptoms

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How is hearing loss identified?

Hearing loss usually develops over a period of several years. Since the hearing loss is painless and gradual, many people may not notice it. What someone may notice is tinnitus, which is a ringing or another sound in the ear. The tinnitus could be the result of long-term exposure to noise that has damaged the hearing nerve. Or, a person may have trouble understanding what people are saying or may hear everyone as mumbling. Such hearing difficulties are especially apt to occur when one is trying to hear in a noisy place such as in crowd or at a party. These difficulties could be the beginning of high-frequency hearing loss.

A typical hearing test (audiogram) of a person with noise induced hearing loss will initially show only a high frequency loss at 4000 Hz. (Hertz or Hz is the measure of sound frequency or pitch. Four thousand Hz is high frequency, while 250 or 500 Hz would be low frequency). With continued noise exposure and hearing loss, the audiogram will show a broader loss to include lower (deeper)frequencies.

Noise-induced hearing loss will almost always affect both ears equally, but in some situations, especially with firearm usage, it may be worse in one ear than in the other. For example, firing a rifle tends to injure the ear opposite the side of the trigger finger due to the shadow (blocking the sound) effect of the shooter's head.

Return to Noise Induced Hearing Loss and Its Prevention

See what others are saying

Comment from: Joyce, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: August 25

I had a brain MRI (Tesla 3); the technician had to do the procedure twice because I moved. Shortly thereafter, I lost hearing and my tinnitus went sky high. After 2 1/2 months the ringing is still not under control. I take gabapentin but it has little effect on the ringing.

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