One of the most frequent contributors to hearing loss is noise exposure. Our hearing mechanism evolved and developed to be exquisitely sensitive to sound, especially those sounds associated with language. Prior to our modern era, this very capable system served us very well, but with industrialization and the noise associated with this, that same ability make the hearing mechanism very prone to injury from noise trauma.
In general, sound less than 70-80 decibels (slightly louder than normal speech), is well tolerated and does not cause trauma to the hearing mechanism. However as the loudness increases, the sound begins to have a shearing effect on the inner ear, causing the hearing sensory cells, known as hair cells, to stop working. If the loud sound is present long enough, or repeatedly, unfortunately those hair cells stop working for good, and not being able to repair themselves, the hearing begins to be lost.
Fortunately most loud noise can be anticipated in work and recreation. The use of hearing protection in the form of ear plugs and head sets can go a long way towards reducing the trauma to the inner ear, while still enjoying and obtaining the benefits of our modern society. Being careful of how loud we play or listen to music, especially while wearing in the ear style ear buds or head sets, can also reduce the impact that loudness has on the health of the hearing mechanism. Some forms of hearing protection can be used by processionals like musicians where the balance between hearing protection, and being able to hear to perform well require a customized approach.
If you have concerns about noise exposure and your hearing, the importance of an appropriate and timely evaluation cannot be understated. The health professionals at the Shea Clinic Ear Nose & Throat and the Shea Hearing Aid Center have the experience, expertise and tools to help you understand and manage your hearing concerns, and get custom fitted hearing protection. We welcome the chance to assist you.