A Complete Guide to Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Many people assume that there is only one type of hearing loss. Where, in reality, there are a few different types of hearing loss. One of which is noise-induced hearing loss. Some people have hearing loss from birth, but for others, it happens due to noise. 

Hearing loss facts: 

  • There are 48 million people in the US with hearing loss
  • Two out of three people over 75 have age-related hearing loss
  • One out of three people over the age of 65 have varying degrees of hearing loss
  • Tinnitus affects 50 million people in the US
  • Fourteen percent of people between the ages of 45-64 have some degree of hearing loss.

Hearing loss types:

  • Conductive hearing loss is where the middle ear is unable to conduct sound correctly.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss is where the hair cells of the cochlea are missing or damaged.
  • Neural hearing loss is where the auditory nerves are missing or damaged.
  • Mixed hearing loss is where there is a combination of two of these types of hearing loss.
  • Noise-induced hearing loss is where loud noise destroys the hair cells in the auditory pathway.

Noise-induced hearing loss is where hearing loss is caused by damage to the small structures in the ear. These structures are called hair cells, and they are in the inner ear. These little hair cells have been damaged or died due to noise exposure. Unfortunately, when these cells are damaged will never grow back. 


Sensorineural hearing loss points to an issue in the hearing nerves or the organs of hearing. It can damage the auditory centers of the brain, the auditory nerves or the inner ear cochlea. 

It is often the case that a person who has this hearing loss with benefit from communication therapies, a cochlear implant, medical management and/or a hearing aid. 

Prevention of noise-induced hearing loss

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) happens slowly over time, and there isn’t any pain. This is why many people don’t realize that they are damaging their hearing or their ears until theta already have hearing loss. 

Here are the early signs of noise-induced hearing loss:

  • Needing to turn the TV or music up on the raid
  • Unable to hear high pitched noise like babies, or the phone ringing in another room
  • Having trouble understanding what people are saying, this is more common in s a crowded room.
  • Asking people to repeat what they have said multiple times

Some people who have NIHL may also experience tinnitus. The only way you will be able to confirm that you have noise-induced hearing loss is to discuss your care with an audiologist at the earlier opportunity. 

How can I tell if a noise is harming my ears?

People are exposed to varying noises in their daily life. Some people work in jobs that have much more noise than others. Both the length of time you hear the loud noise and how loud it is will both have an impact. We measure sound in decibels. 

Here are some everyday noises that can harm your ears:

  • Chainsaw and a rock concert are 110 to 120 decibels
  • Firearms are 140 to 170 decibels
  • Farm machinery is 90 to 110 decibels
  • Lawnmowers are 90 decibels
  • MP3 players and other music devices with headphones 100 decibels.

How can I prevent noise-induced hearing loss?

Noise-induced hearing loss is the only hearing loss that can be prevented with good hearing health. Here are some of the best ways that you can prevent noise-induced hearing loss:

  • Use hearing protectors when you are around loud noise for a while
  • Only listen to music at 60% of the maximum for 60 minutes
  • Teach your children how important it is to protect their hearing too
  • Ask for earplugs or earmuffs if you work in a loud environment. 
  • If you think that you have damaged your ears, it is a good idea for you to speak to a hearing professional as quickly as possible. 

What are the treatments for noise-induced hearing loss?

While there is no cure for noise-induced hearing loss, it can be treated in many ways. The best option for treating NIHL is getting property fitted hearing aids. While hearing aids in the previous year may have been cumbersome, modern hearing aids are light and come with a wide range of functions. 

Your audiologist will be able to advise you on all of the possible hearing aid options. As well as take care of ensuring they fit comfortably and are adjusted to suit your needs. 

For more information, call The Speech & Hearing Center today at 423-622-6900.