Wednesday Apr 24, 2024

How Does Loud Noise Cause Hearing Loss?

Noise harms the nerves, membranes, hair cells, and other sections of your ear. This can result in permanent or temporary hearing loss. This article explains how this occurs so you can avert hearing impairment.

Hearing Loss Can Either Be Permanent or Temporary

Hearing loss entails a reduction in your hearing ability or aptitude to perceive sounds and speech around you. Hearing impairment can occur when any section of the ear or the nerves that transmit sounds or information to your brain receptors don’t function normally. In some instances, deafness can be brief. However, things can get permanent when integral regions of the ear become irreparably damaged. Damage to any region of the ear can result in hearing impairment.

Loud noise is especially detrimental to the cochlea (inner ear). A sudden outburst of awfully loud sound or listening to loud noises for a prolonged duration can result in deafness. Loud sound has the ability to damage membranes and cells located in the cochlea. Hearing loud sounds for an extended period can overburden hair cells located in the ear, which can result in these cells dying. When exposure is continuous, the hearing impairment advances. Even after exposure to loud sounds halts, the harmful side effects may continue. Any harm to the auditory neural system or inner ear is usually permanent.

Damaged Hair Cells in Your Ears Can Result In Deafness

A newly-born person has around 16,000 hair cells within their inner ear. These cells enable the brain to perceive sounds. About 30% to 50% of hair cells can be destroyed or damaged before any alterations in your hearing capacity can be gauged by a hearing exam. By the time you begin noticing any loss in your hearing ability, most of the hair cells you were born with will have gotten damaged and can’t be restored.

Have you ever noticed that after attending a loud function, such as a football game or concert, you don’t quite have that keen hearing as before? You may hear a ringing sound, sounds may be muffled, or whispers may be hard to pick up on. Normal hearing ability often returns in a couple of hours to days following the event. As with blades of grass, hair cells tend to bend on exposure to loud sounds. However, after you recover, they will straighten up.

But if the sound you have been exposed to is too loud, several of the hair cells will get damaged, making them die off. Continuous exposure to loud sounds over an extended period will destroy most of your hair cells. Gradually, this can decrease your ability of understanding speech when you’re in a noisy place. With this kind of repeated hearing loss, you’ll soon find it difficult to comprehend speech even when you’re in a quiet place. If you are in the Reading area then I would recommend you see ‘noise surveys in Reading‘.

Noise Can Also Destroy Nerves in Your Ears

On top of destroying hair cells, noise can also be harmful to the auditory nerves that transmit info concerning sounds to your brain. When you get a hearing examination, early damage may not be detected. The impact of getting exposed to loud sounds over time can influence your overall hearing ability later on.

How Do We Hear?

We are able to comprehend sound because of sound waves that enter our ears and are transmitted to the brain. We distinguish those vibrations as music, speech, or other sounds.

Outer Ear

The external region of the ear (outer ear) carries sound waves to the ear canal. The sound waves are then conveyed via the ear canal to the eardrum.

Middle Ear

The incoming sound waves from the outer ear make the eardrum vibrate, from where these vibrations are sent to three small bones located in the middle ear. These bones increase, or amplify the vibrations and transmit them to the cochlea.


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