Noise Induced Hearing Loss and Its Prevention (cont.)
James K. Bredenkamp, MD, FACS
Dr. Bredenkamp recieved his medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. He then went on to serve a six year residency at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine in the department of Surgery.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- What is the importance of noise-induced hearing loss?
- What are acoustic trauma and noise-induced hearing loss?
- How can a person tell if a noisy situation is dangerous to their hearing?
- How loud can a sound get before it affects hearing?
- Do the duration and closeness of exposure to loud noise relate to hearing damage?
- What factors increase a person's susceptibility to noise-induced hearing loss?
- How else can noise affect a person?
- What are the regulations regarding on-the-job exposure to noise?
- How effective are hearing protection devices?
- What are the common problems with hearing protectors?
- Do hearing protectors prevent a person from communicating with others?
- How is hearing loss identified?
- What can be done to treat hearing loss?
- Find a local Ear, Nose, & Throat Doctor in your town
How can a person tell if a noisy situation is dangerous to their hearing?
People may differ in their sensitivity to noise. Nevertheless, as a general rule, noise is probably damaging to the hearing if the noise:
- makes it necessary to shout to be heard over the
- causes ear pain,
- makes the ears ring, or
- causes a loss of hearing for several hours or more after exposure to the noise.
In contrast to popular belief, there is no truth to the idea that a person is able to "toughen up" the ears by frequent exposure to loud noise. In reality, cumulative noise in the past has probably damaged the ears to such a degree that a person doesn't hear the noise as much. Unfortunately, no treatment is available for noise-induced hearing loss once the damage has occurred.
How loud can a sound get before it affects hearing?
Many experts agree that continual exposure to more than 85 decibels (dB) is dangerous to the ears. As already mentioned, the decibel is a measure of the intensity of sound. For example:
- the faintest sound the human ear can detect is labeled 0 dB,
whereas the noise at a rocket pad during launch approaches 180 dB;
- a quiet
whisper is approximately 30 dB;
- normal conversation is 60 dB;
- a lawnmower is
90 dB; and
- the sound from an iPod Shuffle has been measured at 115 dBs.
Decibels are measured logarithmically, which means that the sound energy of noise increases by units of 10. Therefore, a dB increase of a sound from 20 to 30 dB is an increase of 10 times, and a dB increase of a sound from 20 to 40 dB corresponds to increase of 100 times (10 times 10).
Viewers share their comments
Find out what women really need.