Noise-related hearing damage can happen in an instant. For instance, the sound of a gunshot firing or fireworks exploding at close range can cause immediate, permanent hearing damage. Repeated exposure to loud noise – such as jackhammers at construction sites, heavy machinery in factories, and listening to music at unsafe volumes – may also result in hearing loss over time.
Exposure to loud noise kills the nerve endings in the inner ear, which can cause noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and tinnitus (ringing, roaring, or buzzing in the ears). The louder the sound, the faster it can damage your hearing, and repeated, long-term exposure to loud sounds will result in more dead nerve endings. Once nerve endings die, they can never be restored, resulting in permanent hearing loss.
Unfortunately, 1 in 4 U.S. adults ages 20 to 69 already show signs of hearing loss due to noise overexposure. But the good news is that hearing loss caused by noise is preventable – with the right protection and strategies. This blog will spotlight common causes of noise-related hearing loss and explain the benefits of hearing protection.