Lawn mowers, outdoor concerts, and fireworks are all familiar sounds of the summer. However, many of these sounds can potentially lead to hearing loss. Knowing the signs of noise-induced hearing loss and how to prevent it will help maintain good hearing health.
Noise-induced hearing loss occurs when the nerve fibers in the inner ear (cochlea) are damaged by especially loud sounds. There are two main variables to consider with noise-induced hearing loss: intensity (loudness) and duration (time). The effect can be temporary or permanent. Many people with this type of hearing loss don’t even realize their hearing has been damaged, as it can develop gradually over a period of years with regular exposure.
Noise-induced hearing loss can affect anyone, of any age. According to the CDC, this type of hearing loss may affect between 10 million and 40 million adults in the United States.
This type of hearing loss can result from a one-time exposure to a loud noise, such as an explosion, or an extended exposure to a loud sound over a period of time, such as from a lawn mower.
Common causes of noise-induced hearing loss that may occur during the summer include:
- Loud concerts
- Playing in a band
- Dirt bikes
- Power boats
- Sporting events
- Lawn mower
- Power tools
Noise-induced hearing loss usually develops slowly over time. During this time, the brain gradually adjusts to a lower hearing acuity. Even if hearing is screened routinely after spending time in high-risk environments, hearing loss still may not be immediately noticeable.
Common signs of noise-induced hearing loss include:
- Ringing in the ears
- Unclear or muffled speech
- Difficulty following conversations
- Difficulty hearing in environments with loud background noise
- Needing to turn up the volume of the television
- Asking people to repeat themselves
- Inability to hear high-pitched sounds
This type of hearing loss can often be prevented by taking steps to protect hearing, especially in environments that produce loud noises.
Tips for preventing noise-induced hearing loss during the summer include:
- Wearing earplugs, earmuffs, or other protective devices in loud environments or when doing noisy activities, such as when attending a concert or mowing the lawn
- Moving away from noises when no earplugs or earmuffs are available
- Avoiding the front row of fireworks shows
- Having a hearing test after being exposed to loud situations or environments
- Turning down the volume of music on stereos at home and in the car
Hearing protection devices like earplugs and earmuffs are sold at many pharmacies. Custom-fitting hearing protection devices are also available from most audiologists, and are ideal for those who frequently spend time in loud, noisy environments.
At Sonora Hearing Care, LLC, we care about the quality of your hearing and are equipped to address all your questions and concerns regarding sound safety. We also provide custom hearing protection for those who spend lots of time in loud environments. Contact us today at (520) 881-8740 to schedule a consultation and learn more about our hearing services.