FAQ: Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL)

FAQ: Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL)

July 18, 2019
The world is often a noisy place. The question is–how much of that noise is impacting our ability to hear? Sounds that are too loud, whether brief or long lasting in duration, can damage sensitive structures in the inner ear and result in noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) reports that approximately 15 percent of Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 (or 26 million Americans) have hearing loss that may have been caused by exposure to noise at work or in leisure activities. So what are the critical points to understand about this serious, yet often preventable, condition? Find out below…

How does NIHL present itself?

NIHL varies significantly from person to person.
  • It can be immediate or take a considerable amount of time to be noticeable.
  • It can be temporary or permanent.
  • It can affect one or both ears.
Signs of hearing loss can include:
  • Muffled or distorted hearing
  • Difficulty hearing sounds such as birds singing, alarm clocks, telephones, doorbells or televisions.
  • Difficulty understanding speech during telephone conversations or while participating in group conversations
  • Pain or ringing in the ears (Tinnitus) after exposure to excessively loud sounds

What causes NIHL?

NIHL can result from either a one-time exposure to an extremely loud sound, blast, or impulse (120+ decibels) or by listening to loud sounds (85+ decibels) over an extended period or time. These noises could be from a wide range of sources, but often times include occupational noises (such as from machinery), recreational noises (such as during shooting, hunting or fireworks) or from loud music. These loud noises have an impact on an ear’s anatomy. Microscopic hair cells found inside the cochlea of the inner ear respond to mechanical cell vibrations by transmitting an electrical signal to the auditory nerve. Different groups of hair cells are responsible for different frequencies (ranging from 20Hz to 20,000 Hz in a healthy ear). When exposed to loud sounds over a period of time, the hair cell’s hair-like stereocilia may get damaged or broken–ultimately resulting in hearing loss. Extremely loud bursts of sounds may rupture the eardrum or damage the bones in the middle ear and result in immediate and permanent hearing loss.

How is NIHL treated?

If you believe you are suffering from noise induced hearing loss, schedule an appointment with an experience audiologist. They will be able to fully assess your condition and help you manage your lessened hearing. Palm Beach Sleep and Sinus, under the direction of Mark T. Agrama, MD, is dedicated to the medical and surgical treatment of adult sleep, sinus and nose disorders. State of the art diagnostic protocols such as Home Sleep Studies, Laboratory Sleep Studies, Nasal Endoscopy, Video Flexible Laryngoscopy, Video Stroboscopy, Sleep Endoscopy, and CT Scan Imaging help us analyze our patient’s condition. Our mission is the optimization of Sleep and Sinus health for our patients using a comprehensive and individualized plan designed for long-term success. To discuss noise induced hearing loss, please contact us online or call us.