Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Loud noises can damage the small hair cells inside your ear that you need to transmit sound from your ear to your brain. If you’ve been exposed to loud noises, be it a one-time sound or prolonged exposure, you may experience hearing loss.

Signs, causes &


Your ears contain tiny hair cells called stereocilia. These cells help to convert the physical force that sound generates into electrical signals your brain can process.

They also play a role in helping you maintain your balance.

Loud noises can cause permanent damage to the small cells inside your ear.

Unfortunately, your stereocilia don’t regrow or replace themselves if they get damaged, meaning any damage that occurs is often permanent.

Signs of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Noise-induced hearing loss comes with several signs and symptoms. Make sure you schedule a hearing test if you experience any of these issues.

It’s hard to hear high-pitched sounds

You may find that high-pitched sounds seem muffled compared to low-pitched.

A good example is that you find it easier to hear men’s voices than women’s voices than those of small children.

Equal hearing loss between both ears

Noise-induced hearing loss usually affects both of your ears equally.

Hence, having an equal or similar degree of hearing loss between both ears is often a sign.

It’s harder to identify certain sounds

You might find it more difficult to tell the “sh”, “s”, “f”, and “th” sounds apart. For example, “that”, “sat”, and “fat” may all sound like the same word.

Others sound like they’re mumbling

If you find you’re asking everybody else to speak up when talking, you may have noise-induced hearing loss.

Try our quick hearing loss quiz

If you’re wondering whether you should book a hearing check with the Freedom Hearing team, take this quick quiz. 

A “yes” to most or all of these questions may mean you have noise-induced hearing loss:

  • Do high-pitched sounds, such as the microwave dinging, sound muffled?
  • Do some people sound like they’re mumbling?
  • Are you having trouble telling similar-sounding words apart?

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Causes & Treatment

Though all noise-induced hearing loss results from noise exposure, there are several specific causes to look out for:

  • One-time exposures to loud “impulse” sounds, such as explosions or gunshots
  • Prolonged exposure to noises above 85 decibels, such as loud headphones music
  • Extended exposure to loud noises in the workplace

As a general rule, exposure to noise above 85 decibels can cause damage, especially if the exposure is prolonged. Your distance from the noise sources also plays a role. The closer you are, the worse the damage may be.

You can take some preventative measures to stop noise-induced hearing loss. These include wearing earmuffs, turning your music down, and being mindful of your surroundings. If hearing loss has already occurred, a hearing aid may restore some of your lost hearing. To find out more about your hearing loss and whether it’s noise-induced, schedule your free hearing assessment with the Freedom Hearing team:

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Noise-induced FAQs

Ringing, hissing, or roaring in the ears can be brought on by loud noise.

This often happens right after you are exposed to the loud noise, but it normally goes away after a while, although not always.

A kind of hearing loss called noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is brought on by exposure to loud noise.

Anyone can develop NIHL, and generally permanent.

The inability to hear conversations, ringing in the ears and trouble interpreting words are all signs of NIHL.

It is crucial to take precautions to safeguard your hearing since NIHL is avoidable.

Hearing exams evaluate a person’s capacity for both loudness and pitch perception.

To determine the severity and root causes of hearing issues, hearing data is plotted on a graph (an audiogram).

Speech discrimination tests and pure tone audiometry are among the tests available.

There are various ways that doctors may detect hearing loss, but audiometric testing is the best one for identifying noise-induced hearing loss.

Audiometric testing is the most common technique.

Various forms of noise are used in this kind of testing to gauge a subject’s hearing capacity.

It is typically regarded as the most accurate method of identifying hearing loss brought on by noise.

Noise-induced hearing loss is permanent and cannot be reversed. The damage caused by loud noise exposure to the hair cells in the inner ear, which are responsible for converting sound waves into electrical signals that the brain can understand. Once these hair cells are damaged, they do not regenerate, so the hearing loss is permanent.

However, there are some things that can be done to help manage noise-induced hearing loss, such as:

  • Wearing hearing protection, such as earplugs or noise-canceling headphones, in loud environments
  • Limiting exposure to loud noise
  • Using assistive listening devices, such as hearing aids or cochlear implants, to amplify sound.
  • There are also some new experimental treatments that are being researched such as gene therapy, stem cells and regenerative medicine, which have shown some promising results in laboratory animals but are yet not available for human use.
  • It’s important to note that preventing noise-induced hearing loss is much better than trying to manage it once it has occurred. It’s important to take steps to protect your hearing, such as wearing earplugs or noise-canceling headphones in loud environments and limiting exposure to loud noise.

The impact of noise on hearing varies with the volume (loud amplitude) and duration of the noise (duration).

The best protection is to stay away from loud environments.

If you can’t get away from the noise, make sure you have the right hearing protection.

You can usually sense whether the noise around you is excessively loud even without a piece of equipment to measure sound.

The sound is excessively loud and might eventually harm your hearing if you or others have to yell to be heard or if you cannot understand each other even when you are arm’s length apart.

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