International Noise Awareness Day: Loud Noises That Can Damage Your Hearing

International Noise Awareness Day, set by the Center for Hearing and Communication, is a day meant for educating people on the health risks of noise exposure, and to spread awareness of sounds that could possibly damage hearing.

Understanding How Noise Exposure Affects You

Noise or unwanted sound is the most common environmental hazard in the U.S. and has a direct correlation with health issues, such as cognitive impairment, cardiovascular disease, and sleep disturbance.

The following are some ways in which constant exposure to loud noise might affect your hearing and overall health:

1. Noise-Induced Loss of Hearing

People who are frequently exposed to loud noise are more likely to experience Noise Induced Loss of Hearing (NILH). The effects of loud noise on an individual's overall health are dependent upon the level of exposure. The higher the exposure, the more severe the hearing damage experienced by the individual.

2. Disrupted Sleep Patterns

People often assume that their bodies will become accustomed to loud noise. However, this is not true of your cardiovascular system. Environmental Noise Studies reveal that there is a constant fluctuation from deep to light sleep for people who live in noisy environments.

3. Noise-Induced Stress

Noise-induced stress can cause a multitude of problems among adults, ranging from mild annoyance to serious heart conditions. Children often react differently when exposed to loud noise. They may exhibit difficulties in learning, become unable to concentrate, and have poor comprehension skills.

4. Damage to Sensory Hair Cells

Being exposed to sound levels greater than 75 dBA for extended periods puts you at risk of losing your hearing, as this sound level can damage the sensory hair cells inside the cochlea. This level of noise exposure is also a risk factor for tinnitus and hyperacusis.

5. Irregular Blood Pressure

Generally, blood pressure is expected to drop while one sleeps. Unfortunately, this often isn't the case for people living in noisy environments. Such people often experience irregularities (rise and fall) in their blood pressure, in addition to irregular cardiovascular circadian rhythms.

Factors That Can Damage Your Hearing in Everyday Life

Everyday life presents many factors that can damage your hearing. Busy streets, loud radios, and even your vacuum cleaner are all sources of noise. Regular exposure to such noises can cause your hearing to deteriorate.

The most common sources of loud noise in our everyday life are portable media players, as the sound level can easily be too loud for our ears. Regular exposure to excessive volume through earbuds or headphones can be a significant contributor to hearing loss.

For those who work in loud environments, it is important to use devices that help protect your ears. For example, people who work with heavy machinery, firearms, or power tools are at risk of damaging their ears. Firearms in particular produce very high sound levels (from 85dB up to 160dB or more).

Regular hearing tests will help detect and diagnose problems before they become worse. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Chris Hoffman to get your hearing checked.


Chris Lin Hoffmann

Dr. Chris Hoffmann is an audiologist who has been involved in hearing sciences for over 20 years. Her passion for helping people with their hearing led her to establish Hoffmann Audiology hearing clinic. Dr. Hoffmann has more than 14 years of clinical knowledge in hearing testing, hearing aid fittings, and aural rehabilitation.

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