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Noise-induced hearing loss: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About noise-induced hearing loss

When one is exposed to sounds that are too loud or sounds that last for a long time, sensitive structures in our inner ear often get damaged, causing noise-induced hearing loss.

Noise-induced hearing loss: Incidence, age and sex

People of all ages, including children, young adults, and older people, can develop noise-induced hearing loss. Both genders are equally affected. Individuals mainly between the age of 20 and 70 years, have hearing loss, of which almost one-third cases are due to noise exposure.

Signs and symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss: Diagnosis

When an individual is exposed to loud noise over a long period of time, symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss may slowly develop. As time progresses, the sounds a person hears may become distorted, and it may be difficult for the individual to understand conversations.

Causes and prevention of noise-induced hearing loss

Noise-induced hearing loss can be caused either by just a one-time exposure to an intense sound, such as a bomb explosion, or by continuous exposure to loud sounds over an extended period of time. The louder the sound, the shorter the time-period before noise-induced hearing loss occurs and the closer the source of loud sound, the more damage it causes to the internal ear.

Some factors have been associated with an increased susceptibility to noise-induced hearing loss like blue eyes and light skin, a family history of hearing loss, iron and vitamin A deficiency, diabetes, Meniere’s disease, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), and smoking.

As a thumb rule, one can avoid noises that are “too loud” and “too close” or that last “too long.” Noise-induced hearing loss can be prevented if appropriate care is taken. It is advisable to wear earplugs or other hearing protective devices as and when needed and this can aid in preventing damage to the inner ear.

Noise-induced hearing loss: Complications

Exposure to harmful sounds causes damage which results in immediate hearing loss, and this loss may be permanent. This may also be accompanied by tinnitus (a ringing or buzzing sound in the ears) which usually subsides with time. Noise-induced hearing loss may occur in one or both ears. If it occurs in both ears, it may seriously affect the individual’s quality of life.

Noise-induced hearing loss: Treatment

There are no well recognized and scientifically validated treatment modalities for noise-induced hearing loss, but there is ongoing research with encouraging results. Some researches have shown that aspirin and vitamin E may prevent such cases of hearing loss. But for now, prevention and adequate care to the ear is the main step in preventing or even managing noise-induced hearing loss.