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Home Knowledge Center Wellness Library Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Overview

Hearing loss caused by noise can occur in people of any age. Whether a noise is harmful depends on how loud it is and how long you're around it.

Noise can affect hearing in several ways.

  • On-the-job (occupational) noise is one of the most common sources of harmful noise. Construction and factory workers, or those in the military, might have this type of hearing loss.
  • A sudden, extremely loud sound can cause immediate, severe, and often permanent hearing loss. This type of injury often requires medical attention right away.
  • Loud sounds (like a rock concert) can cause a temporary ringing and hearing loss.
  • Repeated, frequent exposure to loud or moderately loud sounds over a long period of time (often years) can cause permanent hearing loss. These sounds include high-volume music and the noise of power tools, lawn mowers, household appliances, and vehicles.

How does noise-induced hearing loss develop?

To be heard, sound energy has to be strong enough to bend tiny hair cells in the cochlea, a part of the inner ear. The force of loud noise can damage these hair cells. A small amount of damage may have no effect on hearing. But with repeated exposure to noise, more of the hair cells are damaged, causing hearing loss.

Noise-induced hearing loss usually affects both ears. But one ear may be affected more than the other if you've had repeated, long-term exposure to a loud sound that always comes from the same direction. An example is gunfire that's always near the same ear.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

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Harmful Noise Levels Hearing Loss

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