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What is Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

a woman with her hair blowing back denoting the giant speakers in front of her are blasting her with sound.

Noise-induced hearing loss, (NIHL), is one of the most common types of hearing loss in the United States. As a matter of fact, the Centers for Disease Control reports it is the second leading cause of hearing loss in adults age 20-69 years old. It is believed to affect 1 in every 4 within this age group.

It occurs over time from periods of exposure to loud noises within the environment. As with other forms of hearing loss, it occurs gradually and may go unnoticed until hearing becomes increasingly impaired.

Though NIHL is a permanent form of hearing loss it is also one that is preventable. This is why understanding the risks and learning how to avoid exposure is so important.

Common Exposure Sources

There are several types of prolonged noise exposure that can result in hearing loss. While occupational sources are the first to come to mind, the statistics may be shocking, as less than half of all cases of noise-induced hearing loss is attributed to exposure on-the-job.

Routine and frequent sources of loud noise that can affect hearing are most likely found within the home and community. This can include but is not limited to sources of noise from loud events such as concerts and games, utilizing home maintenance equipment such as lawnmowers and leaf blowers and, as you may have guessed loud music.

Common Risk Factors

Some groups are more at risk than others based on their habits, sex and occupation. For example, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, (NIDOD), released a study indicating that males are more likely to suffer from NIHL than their female counterparts. This was especially so in those who were between the ages of 16-20.

Soldiers and musicians are also most likely to sustain hearing loss as a result of noise exposure. This same study also points to the correlation of hearing loss in younger children and loud toys.

Preventing NIHL

The best defense of noise-induced hearing loss is quite simple — prevention. This can mean using earplugs when operating equipment or when exposure is likely to occur, avoiding exposure when possible and, as minor as it may seem, turning the volume down on your devices. Prolonged exposure to loud music via external speakers or while using headphones or similar devices ranks high on the list of hearing loss, especially for younger people.

Ever wondered what is Sensorineural hearing loss? Read more about it here.