Noise-Related Causes of Hearing Loss
Noise is one of the most common causes of hearing loss.
Excessive exposure to loud noise can damage the delicate mechanism of the ear. The risk is related to the intensity of the sound and the length of time you’re exposed to it. The louder the sound, the less time your ears can tolerate it. Damage can accumulate over time.
Noise induced hearing loss can be caused by a one-time exposure to an intense “impulse” sound – such as an explosion or gunshot - or by continuous exposure to loud sounds over an extended period of time. One-off exposures to extremely high levels of impulse sound can cause instantaneous damage to hearing.
However, noise induced hearing loss is mostly acquired gradually as the result of exposure to loud noises over an extended period of time. This typically occurs as a result of working in a noisy environment (see industrial deafness); however, of more recent concern is the risk associated with noisy leisure activities.
Common Sources of Potentially Damaging Noise
Sources of potentially damaging noise include:
- motor bike riding
- mechanical plant or machinery
- power tools
- lawn mowers
- compressed air sources
- loud music at concerts or entertainment venues
- personal music players
Repeated or prolonged exposure to loud sounds increases the risk of noise induced hearing loss, and the effects are cumulative.
Signs of Potential Hearing Damage
You could be damaging your hearing if it’s so noisy that you need to shout to talk to someone an arm’s length away, or if your hearing seems dull or your ears are ringing after leaving a noisy situation, like a concert.
Noise induced hearing loss is 100 per cent preventable. It is important to protect your hearing by minimising your exposure to loud sounds or avoiding noisy situations altogether.
Once you damage your hearing, it won’t come back.
References and Further Reading
National Acoustic Laboratories, Hearing Loss Prevention (Protection), Noise Exposure