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Hearing loss caused by noise can occur
in people of any age. It may develop suddenly or gradually, depending on the
source and intensity of the noise. Noise can affect hearing in several
How loud a noise is and how long you are around it determine
whether a noise is harmful. On-the-job (occupational) noise is one of the most
common sources of harmful noise, largely because you are around it all day for
years. For instance, if you work in construction, in a factory, or are in the
military, you may be around harmful noise for several hours each day.
The sounds of recreation and daily activities over many years can also
damage the ear and cause hearing loss. These include:
You can reduce harmful noise levels and prevent noise-induced
damage to your hearing by avoiding noisy situations whenever you can. When you
can't avoid noisy situations, wear hearing protectors such as earplugs or
Noise-induced hearing loss is usually permanent and
cannot be reversed. Hearing aids, which make sounds louder, are often helpful
for this type of hearing loss.
heard, sound energy has to be strong enough to bend tiny hair cells in the
cochlea, a part of the
inner ear. The force of loud noise can damage these hair cells. A small amount
of damage may have no effect on hearing. But with repeated exposure to noise,
more of the hair cells are damaged, resulting in hearing loss.
Noise-induced hearing loss usually affects both ears. But one ear
may be affected more than the other if you have had repeated, long-term
exposure to a loud sound that is always coming from the same direction, such as
gunfire that is always near the same ear.
Current as of:
April 8, 2013
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Charles M. Myer, III, MD - Otolaryngology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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