Noise Induced Hearing Loss: Prevention and Treatment

Dear Friends,   This article was written by one of our INTRAFITT followers, John O’Connor.  John is convinced that healthy living and proper nutrition can prevent and/or delay hearing loss.  He shares his knowledge with us and we thank him for it.

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Noise Induced Hearing Loss: Prevention and Treatment

According to a Cleveland Clinic report, nearly 36 million Americans have hearing loss. In one out of three people, noise exposure contributed to their hearing loss. Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) is one of the most common causes of hearing loss today. Fortunately, it is preventable with some healthy lifestyle changes.

Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Noise induced hearing loss results from damage to the tiny hair cell structures in the inner ear. Hair cells convert sound into electrical signals that travel from the ear to the brain. Noise-damaged hair cells cannot grow back and result in permanent hearing loss.

Noise Exposure Risk Factors

Noise can harm hearing in two ways: constant noise for an extended period of time or loud, impact noise for a short duration of time. Noise exposure occurs in occupational and recreational situations as well as in the home or office.

Firefighters, police officers, construction workers, factory workers, musicians, entertainers and military personnel often work in loud or noisy environments. Noise exposure also occur through recreational items and activities like fireworks, music concerts, dance clubs, shooting ranges, motorcycles, sporting events, lawn equipment and power tools.

Hearing Loss Prevention

Americans can take steps to protect their ears and prevent hearing loss due to noise exposure. The Mayo Clinic offers three healthy living tips for preventing NIHL and lessening age-related hearing loss. These include ear protection, regular hearing tests and noise avoidance.

Workers can protect their ears in a noisy workplace by wearing earplugs or earmuffs. Specially designed gear can bring down loud sounds to an acceptable level. Many pre-formed foam or custom-molded rubber earplugs offer effective protection from damaging sounds.

Regular hearing tests are extremely important for anyone who works in a loud or noisy environment. Hearing tests provide early detection of NIHL and help people take additional steps to protect their ears and prevent hearing loss.

Some of the best recreational activities are the hardest ones on hearing. Earplugs and other hearing protectors are essential during many of these activities. Often, the best prevention is turning the noise down or walking away from it.

Hearing Loss Treatments

Of the millions of Americans with some degree of hearing loss, almost two-thirds have permanent damage to their high-frequency hearing due to NIHL. Fortunately, help is available. The treatment options depend on the severity of hearing loss.

Hearing loss caused by inner ear damage may benefit from a hearing aid or hearing aids. These assistive devices make sounds stronger and easier to hear. An audiologist can determine the degree of hearing loss and recommend a device. Inexpensive, over-the-ear microphone hearing aids are effective for some patients. They may need to try more than one hearing aid to find the best device.

Cochlear implants are a treatment option for people with severe hearing loss. Unlike hearing aids that amplify sound, cochlear implants compensate for damaged structures in the inner ear. Audiologists work with ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists to determine the best surgical treatments for patients with hearing loss.

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In strength and honor,

Will Smith/aka Thunder of the American Gladiators