Noise is one of the most common causes of hearing loss, and one of the most common occupational illnesses in the United States. A single shot from a shotgun, experienced at close range, may permanently damage your hearing in an instant. Repeated exposures to loud machinery may, over an extended period of time, present serious risks to human hearing.
- 10 million Americans have already suffered irreversible hearing damage from noise.
- 30 million are exposed to dangerous noise levels each day.
- The effects of noise on hearing are often underestimated because the damage takes place so gradually.
Excessive noise damages the delicate hair cells in the inner ear. This damage results in sensorineural hearing loss and often tinnitus (ringing of the ears). Dangerous levels of noise can come from working in noisy occupations or in engaging in dangerous recreational activities:
- Beware of dangerous recreational activities, including video arcades, firecrackers, music concerts, shooting a gun, movie theaters, sporting events, motor boards, and motorcycles.
- Occupations particularly under risk for hearing loss due to exposure to noise include firefighters, police officers, factory workers, farmers, construction workers, military personnel, heavy industry workers, musicians.
If you have to raise your voice to shout over the noise to be heard by someone within an arm’s length away, the noise is probably in the dangerous range. Some of the warning signs of the presence of or exposure to hazardous noise are as follows:
- You can’t hear someone three feet away
- You have pain in your ears after leaving a noisy area
- You hear ringing or buzzing (tinnitus) in your ears immediately after exposure to noise
- You suddenly have difficulty understanding speech after exposure to noise; you can hear people talking but you cannot understand them.
Information courtesy of the Better Hearing Institute