Hearing loss is a treacherous thing. Sometimes it can happen instantly, sometimes it basically sneaks up on us without notice, gradually, slowly. Gradual loss of hearing is especially problematic because the issue is neither immediately noticed by people suffering it, nor is it typically simple to pinpoint the cause for it. That is, unless you work in an industry where high noise levels are a common occurrence. In that case, you are at risk of hearing damage if you don’t use protective hearing gear and will likely end up need to use any one of the types of hearing aid available today. Still, even most workers in such industries don’t notice the difference until some damage has already been done.
Simple Breakdown of Hearing Loss
There’s a large variety of potential causes for hearing loss. Some cases basically end in partial or complete hearing loss, depending on the cause. Hearing loss can simply be a side effect of medicine. Medicines that can potentially cause loss of hearing are commonly called ototoxic. For example, large quantities of aspirin can cause hearing loss, as well as some drugs commonly used during cemotherapy treatment. Certain diseases also cause hearing loss as a direct result. Otosclerosis causes a bony growth in your middle ear, disrupting the overall hearing process. Meniere’s disease can impact both hearing and balance in varying degrees. Certain types of tumors can affect some of the nerves responsible for hearing. Then there’s also general trauma and noise induced hearing loss.
Hearing Loss From Physical Trauma
Unlike most of the other hearing loss causes that we listed, trauma and noise induced hearing loss have external causes. Hearing loss from trauma is exactly as it sounds – it can occur as the result of actual physical trauma. This includes ruptured or pierced eardrums, fractured temporal bones and damage from sudden air pressure changes or very loud noises. The last two causes are something it has somewhat in common with noise induced hearing loss.
oise Induced Hearing Loss
Noise induced hearing loss is the most common and most treacherous. This is the type of hearing loss where people usually don’t even notice it until some form of irreparable damage has been done. Noise induced hearing loss occurs through long term or short term exposure to noise around or above 85 decibel. The higher the sound pressure level measured in decibel, the less it takes for a person to suffer some form of hearing loss, if they’re not using hearing protection gear. For example, workers in a factory environment that are exposed to noise at 85 decibel, several hours per day, would usually suffer from gradually worsening hearing loss. Protective gear prevents it, but higher noise levels require more protective measures. High decibel noise exposure impacts the microscopic hairs within our inner ears, which are are basically a core element for “translating” vibrations into nerve impulses, which we eventually hear as sounds. The higher the decibel rating, the more it is potentially damaging to those hairs. This is not limited to working environments though. For example, people that have been in the vicinity of thunder strikes, or even been hit by lightning, have suffered hearing loss due to the fact that a “thunderclap” is usually around 120 decibel. Simply put – loud noises are harmful, regardless of the source.