What is Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL)?

  • Added:
    Aug 18, 2013
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What is Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL)? Photo by Adnan Hafeez

The sounds we often hear are not hazardous to our hearing as they are at safe levels; but getting exposed to very loud noises can cause damage to our hair cells which are small sensory structures that convert sound energy into electrical signals. These signals are later sent to the brain which helps us hear the sounds in the environment.

What are the Causes of Noise Induced Hearing Loss?-

This is true that prolonged exposure to loud sounds can damage your hearing, but NIHL can also be caused by one time exposure to an intensely loud sound. It is recommended that a safe distance is maintained from loud sounds. You may be aware that sound is measured in decibels. Noises of explosions , motorbikes, firealarms, and firecrackers can potentially damage your hearing. These sounds are between 120-150 decibels. People who work in a rock band or those who attend concerts can also get their hearing affected due to prolonged exposure to loud sounds. Even useful equipments such as lawnmowers, leaf blowers etc. can cause damage to your hearing.

What are the Symptoms of NIHL-

Strangely, the symptoms of NIHL increase gradually and do not become evident immediately. A person, therefore may remain unaware of hearing loss caused due to NIHL. With the passage of time, the person comes to know about noise induced hearing loss. This often happens when the person finds every sound muffled and unclear. Some come to know about hearing loss after going for a hearing test.

What can be done to prevent NIHL?-

In order to prevent noise induced hearing loss, one must be aware of the sounds that can cause damage to your hearing. It is recommended that earmuffs, earplugs or other protective
devices are used to keep yourself safe from loud sounds.

Educate your family and friends-

As aforementioned, a person suffering from noise induced hearing loss may not be aware of it. Therefore, you must educate your friends, family and relatives about the hearing loss. If you suspect that you or someone known to you is suffering from noise induced hearing loss, take the person to an audiologist and get hearing test done so that appropriate measures can be taken.

Some Dangerous Noises-

An idle bulldozer produces the noise of 85 decibel which can potentially cause permanent damage after just 1 day.

People who listen to loud music should refrain from that as listening to music as the maximum volume level can be of over 100 dbA. Listening to music at such loud level for 15 minutes everyday can cause permanent damage.

Author's Profile

Adnan Hafiz runs Global Hearing, a hearing clinic in melbourne that offers hearing loss treatment. We also provides free hearing test to patients in Melbourne.


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