Every day we are subjected to an incredible amount of noise. If it’s not the washing machine or radio making a noise, it will be a passing truck or bus. Even sounds as innocuous as the vacuum cleaner can be harmful to the ear if we are subjected to them over a long period of time. The ear is very sensitive and once it is damaged, then it cannot be repaired and it will result in a case of noise induced hearing loss.
What types of noises can cause noise induced hearing loss?
Noise induced hearing loss or NIHL can come about from being exposed just once to a very loud noise such as an explosion, in addition to continually being exposed to noise. The measurement of noise is taken in units called decibels. Even normal conversation is measured at a level of 60 decibels. When noises get louder, such as motorcycles or firecrackers, then they will be in the range of 120 to 150 decibels. Being exposed to continually to noises that are under 80 decibels such as a vacuum cleaner can cause hearing loss.
What is the result of NIHL?
Hearing loss that is permanent is caused by being exposed to a noise that damages the inner structures of the ear. It can also be accompanied by tinnitus, a continually buzz or ringing sound. This may or may not subside over time. Tinnitus may occur in just one or both ears.
The trouble with tinnitus is that sufferers report that they cannot hear conversations as well as they could. They will often mistake the tinnitus hissing for the words coming out of the person’s mouth, and vice versa. Other sounds will be distorted.
Who is affected by noise-induced hearing loss?
It’s not just workers who are exposed to loud noises. People who take part in noisy hobbies such as target shooting, hunting, motorcycling, go cart riding, carpentry and music can all be exposed to too much loud noise that can affect their hearing.
How can it be prevented?
There are several habits that should be practiced on a daily basis to prevent hearing loss from occurring. These include:
- Be aware which noises are the loudest and therefore most damaging
- Wear earplugs or other hearing protection when appropriate
- Protect children who cannot protect themselves
- Make colleagues, friends and family aware of the hazards of noise
- Undergo a regular hearing test
If you’ve been subjected to too much noise at work, under no fault of your own, you may be eligible to claim financial compensation from your employer.