Noise-induced hearing loss: what you need to know (2023)

Although noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) can be prevented with appropriate hearing protection, it is usually irreversible once it occurs.

Here's what you need to know about noise-induced hearing loss, including symptoms, causes and treatment options.

OUTSTANDING PARTNERSHIP OFFERNoise-induced hearing loss: what you need to know (1)

Partner lists feature brands that have paid Forbes Health to appear at the top of our list. While this may affect where their products or services appear on our site, this in no way affects our ratings, which are based on thorough research, sound methodologies and expert advice. Our partners cannot pay us to guarantee positive reviews of their products or services

Jabra Enhance online hearing test

Noise-induced hearing loss: what you need to know (2)
(Video) Noise Induced Hearing Loss
  • Take advantage of a free online hearing test supported by audiologists
  • Grab your headphones and find a quiet space
  • The test works with all types of headphones and takes less than five minutes
  • Join a network of hearing and technology experts dedicated to providing the most practical hearing care
  • Get personalized results and information about your hearing

On the Jabra Enhance website

What is noise-induced hearing loss?

NIHL is a speciessensorineural hearing lossthat occurs as a result of damage to the inner ear, says Sarah Lundstrom, Au.D., an audiologist at HearCare Audiology Center in Sarasota, Florida. NIHL can be caused by acute exposure to noise from one specific event, such as an explosion, or by chronic exposure to loud noise over a period of time -- usually as a result of an occupation, he says.

(Video) 5 Things YOU Need to Know about Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Sometimes hearing can return to normal after exposure to loud noise, just as a skin wound heals over time, says Dr. Lundstrom. But in some cases, nerve damage doesn't heal completely -- like a cut that leaves a scar, he explains. Meanwhile, NIHL, which occurs gradually, is usually permanent and irreversible, he adds. Wearing hearing protection such as earplugs or padded earmuffs to reduce exposure to loud noise is key to preventing NIHL, advises Dr. Lundstrom.

NIHL first affects the high-frequency range of hearing, causing a person to miss soft or high-pitched sounds, such as birds chirping or people whispering, Dr. Lundstrom says. Which is harderhearing loss, the greater the range of sounds a person loses, he says. Since hearing plays a key role in communication, even minor hearing loss can negatively affect speech and language comprehension and impair a person's overall quality of life and well-being. In fact, people with NIHL often complain of difficulty understanding others clearly—especially when listening in an environment like a noisy restaurant, says Dr. Lundstrom.

Symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss

Symptoms of NIHL vary depending on the severity of the condition, says Dr. Darius Kohan, director of otology and neurotology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. With mild NIHL, a person may have difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments and hear faint or distant sounds, he says, adding that mild ringing or ringing in the ears (tinnitus) can be that too. A feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear is also common, and there may be noisesrepressedadds Oliver Adunka, M.D., a board-certified otolaryngologist at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio.

With moderate NIHL, a person may have difficulty speaking, need to turn up the volume of electronic devices, and/or experience persistent tinnitus that interferes with daily activities or sleep, Dr. Kohan explains. He says people with moderate to severe NIHL may also have difficulty hearing everyday sounds, such as doorbells, telephones or alarms. The damage caused by NIHL often coincides with age-related hearing loss, says Dr. Adunka, which can worsen over time.

Common causes of noise-induced hearing loss

Inside the spiral bone in the inner ear, which is called the cochlea, there are hair cells, explains Dr. Adunka. He explains that the outer hairs amplify sound, while the inner hairs convert sound waves into nerve impulses that the brain understands as sounds. But if the hair cells are hit by loud noise or exposed to loud sounds for a long time, they can die, says Dr. Adunka. And because they do not regenerate, damage or death of these cells often results in NIHL.

Sound is measured in units called decibels. Any noise below 70 decibels, such as normal conversation, is unlikely to cause hearing loss - even with chronic exposure. But repeated exposure to sounds above 85 decibels, such as a motorcycle or a loud hair dryer, can cause damage. Moreover, the higher the decibel, the faster the damage occurs.

According to Dr. Adunka, there are two main causes of NIHL: acute and chronic exposure to noise.

  • Acute exposure to noise:A single exposure to a loud sound, such as a gunshot or a loud concert, without hearing protection can cause NIHL, says Dr. Adunka.
  • Chronic exposure to noise:Working in a profession that involves daily chronic noise, such as construction or noisy factory work, without hearing protection is a common culprit in noise-induced hearing loss, says Dr. Adunka. However, he adds that NIHL caused by recreational exposure to loud headphones and earphones is becoming more common.

When to visit a healthcare professional

Noise-induced hearing loss can start gradually, so you may not realize the extent of your hearing loss until it becomes severe, says Dr. Kohan. Having a baseline hearing test on file is essential because it allows the audiologist to monitor your hearing health over time.

If you have any hearing problems, Dr. Kohan recommends consulting with a qualified healthcare professional, such as an audiologist or otolaryngologist, for a comprehensive evaluation and appropriate treatment of your symptoms.

Your doctor will ask about your noise exposure and symptoms, and perform a hearing test to rule out other hearing disorders and problems, Dr. Lundstrom says. They will then document the severity of your hearing loss and discuss treatment options with you. He adds that untreated hearing loss from NIHL is likely to worsen, making communication difficult and potentially affecting quality of life and relationships.

Hearing aids tailored to you

Jabra Enhance hearing aids are individually programmed based on your test results, so you get personalized sound right out of the box.


(Video) The Dr. Cliff Show Episode 11 | The BEST ways to treat Noise Induced Hearing Loss
(Video) Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Treatment of noise-induced hearing loss

While most NIHL is irreversible, there are several treatment options available to manage the condition, says Dr. Kohan. Treatment options for NIHL include:

  • Hearing aids.Hearing aids can be tailored to a person's individual hearing needs to improve speech understanding, improve overall audibility and provide a better quality of life, says Dr. Kohan.
  • Hearing aids(ALD).Designed to improve communication in certain situations, ALDs include personal amplifiers,Devices for listening to televisionand telephone amplifiers. These systems can be used in conjunction with hearing aids or on their own, depending on individual needs, says Dr. Kohan.
  • Cochlear implants.In some cases of severe hearing loss,cochlear implantsmay be an option, notes Dr. Kohan.
  • Communication and training strategies.Speech reading (lip reading), auditory training and learning how to best use visual and contextual cues can help improve communication in people with NIHL, says Dr. Kohan.
  • Treatment of tinnitus:The ringing and buzzing sounds that often accompany NIHL can be controlled with hearing aids, sound therapy, counseling, relaxation techniques, andtinnitus masking devicesadvises Dr. Kohan.
  • Advice and support:To help individuals cope with the emotional and psychological aspects of NIHL, counseling and support is available from health professionals, audiologists or support groups, says Dr. Kohan.

When it comes to NIHL, prevention is the best approach, says Dr. Adunka. If you know you'll be in a noisy environment, protect your ears with earmuffs or earplugs, she advises. Moreover, if you frequently use in-ear headphones or earphones, reduce the time of use and keep the volume at a safe level.

An online hearing test that is fast, simple and practical? Say no more.

Jabra's online hearing test is free, fast and supported by audiologists. Get personalized results and information about your hearing from the comfort of your own home.

Run the test

(Video) Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Facts

On the Jabra Enhance website


Noise-induced hearing loss: what you need to know? ›

Hearing loss can result from damage to structures and/or nerve fibers in the inner ear that respond to sound. This type of hearing loss, termed “noise-induced hearing loss,” is usually caused by exposure to excessively loud sounds and cannot be medically or surgically corrected.

What are the 4 P's of noise-induced hearing loss? ›

Why is noise induced hearing loss such a big problem in industrial and military settings? Because of the 4 P's: It is PAINLESS, PROGRESSIVE, PERMANENT…..and it is PREVENTIBLE.

How bad is noise-induced hearing loss? ›

Listening to loud noise for a long time can overwork hair cells in the ear, which can cause these cells to die. The hearing loss progresses as long as the exposure continues. Harmful effects might continue even after noise exposure has stopped. Damage to the inner ear or auditory neural system is generally permanent.

How long does it take to recover from noise-induced hearing loss? ›

Sometimes exposure to impulse or continuous loud noise causes a temporary hearing loss that disappears 16 to 48 hours later. Recent research suggests, however, that although the loss of hearing seems to disappear, there may be residual long-term damage to your hearing.

What are the two common causes of noise-induced hearing loss? ›

Noise-induced hearing loss can result from a one-time exposure to a very loud sound, blast, or impulse, or from listening to loud sounds over an extended period.

What are 3 ways you can reduce noise hearing loss? ›

Walk away from the loud noise. Take breaks from the noise. Avoid loud, noisy activities and places. Use hearing protection.

Can you recover from noise induced hearing loss? ›

Your child's inner ears may be damaged if he or she is around extremely loud noises or around loud noises for long periods of time. Noise-induced hearing loss is gradual and painless. Once the hearing nerve is destroyed, it is permanent.

Can noise hearing loss reversed? ›

Many ask: Can hearing damage and noise induced hearing loss be reversed or is there a cure for noise-induced hearing loss? Unfortunately not. Once the hair cells in the inner ear have been damaged by noise exposure, they have suffered permanent damage and cannot be restored.

How much hearing loss is considered a disability? ›

A person will be considered disabled if their average threshold for air conduction hearing is at least 90 decibels and their average threshold for bone conduction hearing is at least 60 decibels, or if they score 40 percent or less on a word recognition test.

What does the finger rub test detect? ›

The goal of the calibrated finger rub auditory screening test (CALFRAST) is to determine a degree of auditory dysfunction that would likely impair the comfortable understanding of speech.

Is noise-induced hearing loss progressive? ›

It is characterized as sensorineural hearing loss and is usually bilateral, irreversible, and progressive while the exposure to noise continues.

What is the most likely cause to noise-induced hearing loss? ›

Repeated, frequent exposure to loud or moderately loud sounds over a long period of time (often years) can cause permanent hearing loss. But this kind of hearing loss can almost always be prevented. These sounds include recreation and daily activities such as: High-volume music.

What level of hearing loss requires a hearing aid? ›

Hearing Loss Ranges (in decibels)

Some forms of hearing loss can be treated with a hearing aid. If your hearing falls into the 26-70 dB range (mild to moderate), a hearing aid can be very effective in restoring sounds for your daily life.

What is it called when you can t hear because of background noise? ›

Auditory processing disorder (APD)

How loud does it have to be to cause permanent hearing damage? ›

Noise above 70 dB over a prolonged period of time may start to damage your hearing. Loud noise above 120 dB can cause immediate harm to your ears.

What are examples of noise-induced hearing loss? ›

Noise-induced hearing loss is permanent hearing loss that is caused by being around loud noises over a long period of time. It also can occur after you are exposed to loud noise in a short period of time, such as a gunshot or explosion. The more you are around loud noises, the greater your risk hearing loss.

How do you know if hearing loss is permanent or temporary? ›

Temporary hearing loss occurs with an ear infection, excessive ear wax, or exposure to loud noise. However, if hearing is lost and cannot be regained, it is considered permanent hearing loss.

How do you reverse noise-induced hearing loss? ›

Is it Reversible? Even though scientists are making progress, presently, there isn't a cure for noise induced hearing loss. If you have been exposed to a loud noise, you need to consult a doctor as soon as possible, because some of the lasting damage is caused by inflammation in the ear.

How do you stop hearing loss from getting worse? ›

Take Steps to Keep It from Getting Worse
  1. Avoid noisy places whenever possible.
  2. Use earplugs, protective ear muffs, or noise-canceling headphones when around loud noises.
  3. Keep the volume down when listening through earbuds or headphones.
  4. Ask your doctor for a hearing checkup if you suspect you have hearing loss.

Which medications are ototoxic? ›

The most common reported ototoxic drugs in clinical use are aminoglycoside antibiotics, macrolide antibiotics, salicylates, chemotherapeutic agents such as cisplatin, loop diuretics, antimalarials, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), quinine, and acetaminophen (Rybak & Ramkumar, 2007; Tabuchi et al., 2011; ...

Why am I sensitive to noise all of a sudden? ›

The most common cause of hyperacusis is damage to the inner ear from ageing or exposure to loud noise. Hyperacusis is often associated with tinnitus (buzzing, ringing or whistling noises in the ears) and distortion of sounds. Usually both ears are affected, although it is possible to have it in only one ear.

What foods improve your hearing? ›

Omega-3 fatty acids can help delay or prevent age-related hearing loss, so make sure you add more of the following foods to your plate: Walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, fortified eggs, fortified milk, hemp seeds, purslane, Brussels sprouts, spinach, sardines, tuna, mackerel, herring, oysters, and salmon.

How can I restore my hearing naturally? ›

How to improve hearing: 10 steps to hear better
  1. Meditation. More and more, people are turning to meditation for improving their hearing health. ...
  2. Stop smoking. ...
  3. Yoga. ...
  4. Turn down the volume. ...
  5. Check for ear wax. ...
  6. Exercise daily. ...
  7. Focus and locate sounds. ...
  8. Vitamins.

Is there a tax credit for being deaf? ›

Disability tax credit

Even if you retired before age 65, you may be able to claim this credit if your hearing loss or deafness classifies as a total disability that bars you from gainful employment. You need a physician's statement on file that supports your qualification.

Is hearing loss a disability for Social Security? ›

If You Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing (En español)

You may be entitled to receive Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). To learn if you or someone you know may be eligible for these programs, visit our Disability Benefits or SSI Benefits pages.

What are the 4 levels of deafness? ›

Mild hearing loss: Hearing loss of 20 to 40 decibels. Moderate hearing loss: Hearing loss of 41 to 60 decibels. Severe hearing loss: Hearing loss of 61 to 80 decibels. Profound hearing loss or deafness: Hearing loss of more than 81 decibels.

What is the whisper test? ›

The whispered voice test is a simple and accurate test for detecting hearing impairment and compares favourably with the portable audioscope. Despite some variations in the methodology of studies and the populations sampled, findings are relatively consistent.

What is the interlocking finger test? ›

The interlocking finger test (ILFT) is a bedside cognitive test of imitation of manual gestures that evaluates a combination of cognitive abilities. • The performance of healthy subjects on ILFT was influenced by age, but not by education or gender.

What is the watch test for hearing loss? ›

A watch, which the examiner can hear at a specific distance from his ear, is placed next to the patient's ear. Ask him to note when the watch sound disappears. Note that the examiner has to have normal hearing to do this exam (in at least one ear).

What inflammation is associated with noise-induced hearing loss? ›

The above evidence of inflammatory events occurring in the cochlea during noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) suggests that intense noise exposure robustly activates inflammatory mechanisms, including the generation of inflammatory mediators and the recruitment and activation of immune/inflammatory cells.

What is the 60 60 rule hearing loss? ›

Safe-Listening Tips

Follow the “60:60 rule.” Listen at 60 percent of the maximum volume for no more than 60 minutes a day. If the device has a “smart volume” feature, use it. This feature helps regulate the volume.

What level of hearing loss requires a cochlear implant? ›

Severe to profound mid to high-frequency hearing loss (threshold average of 2000, 3000, and 4000 Hz ≥75 dB HL) in the ear to be implanted.

What is normal hearing loss for a 70 year old? ›

Korean Study Finds More High-Frequency Hearing Loss

For those aged 60–69, hearing loss was present at 3,000 Hz at a rate of 42.7%, and at 6,000 Hz at a rate of 79.5%. For those 70 and older, hearing loss was present at 3,000 Hz at a rate of 70.7%, and at 6,000 Hz at a rate of 93.2%.

Why do I hear background noise louder than voices? ›

You may have hyperacusis if some everyday sounds seem much louder than they should. It can sometimes be painful. You may be affected by sounds like: jingling coins.

Why can I not focus with noise? ›

According to Scientific America, noise affects brain activity, learning, memory and concentration levels. If prolonged, this influence can translate to reduced performance in the office, poor memory and difficulty in learning in schools, and increased accidents in the workplace.

What are the signs and symptoms of noise related hearing damage? ›

If you have any of these signs or symptoms, you may have hearing loss caused by noise:
  • Speech and other sounds seem muffled.
  • Trouble hearing high-pitched sounds (e.g., birds, doorbell, telephone, alarm clock)
  • Trouble understanding conversations when you are in a noisy place, such as a restaurant.

How long will it take for your hearing to be damaged without hearing protection? ›

Research indicates that your hearing can be damaged by regular 8-hour exposures to 85 dBA. When noise is as loud as 100 dBA (like a jackhammer or stud welder), it can take repeated exposures of as little as 1 hour per day to damage your hearing.

What decibel level can burst an eardrum? ›

Any noise over 120 decibels, for any length of time, will cause hearing damage and elicit physical pain in your ear. Additionally, noises that register at 150 decibels will rupture a human eardrum.

What are the 4 types of hear loss? ›

The four types of hearing loss are sensorineural, conductive, mixed (sensorineural and conductive) and auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder (ANSD).

What are the four categories of noise explain? ›

Noises are categorized in four different ways. The things you hear throughout the day can be either a continuous noise, intermittent noise, impulsive noise, or low frequency noise. By understanding these categorizations, you'll better understand the measures you can take to protect your hearing.

What are the four levels of hearing loss explain briefly? ›

Mild hearing loss: Hearing loss of 20 to 40 decibels. Moderate hearing loss: Hearing loss of 41 to 60 decibels. Severe hearing loss: Hearing loss of 61 to 80 decibels. Profound hearing loss or deafness: Hearing loss of more than 81 decibels.

What percent of hearing loss qualifies for disability? ›

If you have hearing loss you qualify as disabled if have: An average air conduction hearing threshold of 90 decibels or more in the good ear. An average bone conduction hearing threshold of 60 decibels in the better ear. A word recognition score of 40% or less in the better ear, as determined by standardized tests.

What neurological disorders cause hearing loss? ›

Recent studies have reported that patients suffering from these neurological disorders are accompanied by hearing impairments and other auditory dysfunctions, especially in Alzheimer's disease (AD), Parkinson's disease (PD), Huntington's disease (HD), and ASD.

What is the most common treatment for hearing loss? ›

For age-related hearing loss, there is no cure, but hearing aids and other listening devices help treat the problem and improve quality of life.

Is hearing loss a disability? ›

[4] People with a variety of hearing conditions (including deafness, being hard of hearing, experiencing ringing in the ears, or having sensitivity to noise) may have ADA disabilities.

What sounds do you lose first with hearing loss? ›

In the cochlea, the tiny hairs help translate mechanical sound waves to electrical impulses which are then sent to the brain for interpretation. It is believed that the hair cells responsible for picking up high-frequency sounds are damaged first due to where they are located inside the cochlea.

What kind of noise disturbs you most? ›

A knife scraping against a glass bottle is the most unpleasant sound for most human beings, researchers from the Newcastle University and Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at UCL, both in England, reported in the Journal of Neuroscience.

What are the 5 major types of noise? ›

  • 1 Psychological noise.
  • 2 Environmental noise.
  • 3 Physical noise.
  • 4 Physiological noise.
  • 5 Semantic noise.

How do you know what type of hearing loss you have? ›

Audiometry is an essential means of assessing hearing thresholds in patients presenting with hearing loss. The audiogram quantifies and visually displays a patient's degree and type of hearing loss (sensorineural, conductive, or mixed).

What are the two most common types of hearing loss? ›

Types of hearing loss
  • Sensorineural hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss. ...
  • Conductive hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss is typically the result of obstructions in the outer or middle ear — perhaps due to fluid, tumors, earwax or even ear formation. ...
  • Mixed hearing loss.

What are the three 3 types of hearing loss? ›

Not being able to hear high-pitched sounds such as a ringing telephone or the beep of an alarm may be an early sign of hearing loss. The causes and symptoms of hearing loss fall into three categories: sensorineural hearing loss, conductive hearing loss, and mixed hearing loss.


1. Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
(Dr. Ted V)
2. My story about noise induced hearing loss - Applied Hearing Solutions
(Doctor Cliff, AuD)
3. Focusing on You: Treating Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
(University of Miami Health System)
4. What you need to know about Auracast broadcast audio from Bluetooth
(This Week in Hearing)
5. Miracle-Ear - The Science of Hearing Loss
6. Protect Your Hearing: What Noise Does to Your Ears | WorkSafeBC


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Frankie Dare

Last Updated: 07/09/2023

Views: 6038

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (53 voted)

Reviews: 92% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Frankie Dare

Birthday: 2000-01-27

Address: Suite 313 45115 Caridad Freeway, Port Barabaraville, MS 66713

Phone: +3769542039359

Job: Sales Manager

Hobby: Baton twirling, Stand-up comedy, Leather crafting, Rugby, tabletop games, Jigsaw puzzles, Air sports

Introduction: My name is Frankie Dare, I am a funny, beautiful, proud, fair, pleasant, cheerful, enthusiastic person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.