Young people are increasingly affected by noise -induced hearing loss. The noise-induced hearing loss caused by long-term exposure to noise is usually not curable.
What is noise-induced hearing loss?
According to Bestitude, noise – induced hearing loss is also known as sensorineural hearing loss. Noise-induced hearing loss usually develops as a result of long-term exposure to high levels of noise. Noise-induced hearing loss as chronic noise trauma, for example, must be distinguished from acute noise trauma, which can occur after just a few minutes as a result of sudden loud noise levels.
Noise-induced hearing loss is one of the most common occupational diseases in Germany. Above all, people who work in classic noisy areas have an increased risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss; these include, for example, jobs in the metal industry, woodworking or jobs on printing machines. However, long-term exposure to loud music can also lead to noise-induced hearing loss.
It is often characteristic of noise-induced hearing loss that the hearing impairment is concentrated in certain frequencies, while other frequencies are less affected. Noise-induced hearing loss is particularly noticeable when a person is exposed to background noise (such as background music).
Noise – induced hearing loss is caused by the fact that the oxygen supply to the hair cells in the ear is impaired due to long-term noise. Due to the lack of oxygen supply, the metabolism of the corresponding hair cells is disturbed in the case of noise-induced hearing loss.
As a result, an affected person develops a long-term dysfunction in the area of hearing. According to experts, the limit value above which long-term exposure to noise can lead to hearing loss is 85 dB on average. A noise exposure of this magnitude corresponds approximately to the noise exposure emanating from a circular saw.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
Acute noise-induced hearing loss usually occurs immediately after exposure to loud noise. Depending on the cause, the symptoms can last from a few minutes to hours (e.g. after attending a loud rock concert) or days, weeks and months (after a bang trauma ). In general, acute noise-induced hearing loss manifests itself as a mild to moderate decrease in hearing ability.
In addition, noticeable noises in the ears such as whistling and tinnitus occur. The symptoms usually go away on their own after a period of recovery. Chronic noise-induced hearing loss develops gradually. Those affected initially only perceive the high tones less well before the hearing loss also occurs in other frequency ranges.
Then the patients have difficulty perceiving background noise or differentiating the voices of different people. This is often accompanied by noise such as tinnitus. Permanent hearing problems are likely in the chronic form. However, if the chronic noise-induced hearing loss is treated, the progression of the symptoms can be prevented.
In the best case, an improvement in hearing can be achieved through targeted protection of the hearing. In children and adolescents, chronic noise-induced hearing loss always has lasting consequences. Permanent damage in the area of the auditory canals is also to be expected in the acute form.
Diagnosis & History
Noise-induced hearing loss can be diagnosed with the help of hearing tests; if there is noise-induced hearing loss, this is usually shown by the fact that those frequencies are primarily affected by a hearing impairment that have been exposed to noise exposure for many years. It also speaks for noise-induced hearing loss if a person affected can understand speech poorly, especially when it is combined with background noise.
As a rule, noise-induced hearing loss takes a gradual course and builds up over the years. Since noise-induced hearing loss is primarily concentrated on certain frequencies, those affected often do not perceive it as hearing loss at first. In the course of noise-induced hearing loss, the existing hearing impairment can also be accompanied by ringing in the ears. If a person already has noise-induced hearing loss, it is usually no longer possible to cure it.
Those affected suffer from hearing loss as a result of the noise-induced hearing loss. This can either be innate or acquired through certain events or very loud noises. As a rule, noise-induced hearing loss can no longer be cured and is therefore an irreversible symptom. Those affected are severely restricted in their everyday life and can no longer easily communicate with other people.
The assessment of dangers is also significantly restricted by noise-induced hearing loss, so that those affected underestimate or misjudge certain dangers. In addition, patients often find it difficult to speak. In addition to the hearing loss, the patients themselves sometimes suffer from ringing in the ears, which can lead to severe mental health problems or depression.
It is not possible to make a general prediction as to whether the noises in the ear can be cured or will remain permanent. Furthermore, the noises in the ear can also lead to disturbances in concentration or to irritability in the patient. The quality of life is significantly restricted and reduced by noise-induced hearing loss.
It is not possible to treat noise-induced hearing loss. With the help of hearing aids, limited hearing can be partially corrected. However, a completely positive course of the disease does not occur. However, the life expectancy of the patient is not affected by the noise-induced hearing loss.
When should you go to the doctor?
People who are exposed to loud ambient noise for professional or private reasons should have their hearing checked at regular intervals. If the usual hearing ability decreases, a doctor is needed. If the victim has been exposed to a single loud noise in the form of a bang or similar, it is advisable to consult a doctor. If there is a feeling of numbness or if sounds can no longer be differentiated as usual, a consultation with a doctor is necessary. If ringing in the ears occurs, headaches or a feeling of pressure inside the head, a doctor should be consulted. A doctor should be consulted in the event of disturbances in the night’s sleep, problems falling asleep or general insomnia.
If you experience ringing in your ears, balance problems or pain inside the ear canals, it is advisable to arrange for further medical examinations. If the person concerned notices that he is changing the position of the volume control significantly during the daily use of communication devices, if warning signals from the environment can no longer be heard or if it is difficult to locate the received sound waves in the right direction, a doctor must examine the signs and take a initiate treatment. There is an increased risk of accidents and injuries that can be life-threatening. In case of behavioral problems or mood swings, it is also recommended to consult a doctor.
Treatment & Therapy
Noise – induced hearing loss usually cannot be treated causally. The situation is different in the case of an impending acute noise trauma after a sudden, very loud exposure to noise; In contrast to noise-induced hearing loss, it is possible to use infusions to stimulate the blood flow to the hair cells in the ear in order to promote the metabolism of these cells. A supply of oxygen and/or medication containing cortisone can also be used after acute noise trauma.
If noise-induced hearing loss is diagnosed, doctors usually recommend avoiding further exposure to high levels of noise so as not to further impair hearing. In order to be able to positively influence hearing impairments in the case of noise-induced hearing loss, one possibility is the individual adjustment of a hearing aid. Such hearing aids, which can also be used for noise-induced hearing loss, usually have a microphone, a loudspeaker and an amplifier.
The task of the microphone in a hearing aid is first of all to pick up ambient noise and convert it into electrical signals. With the help of the amplifier, various frequencies are then raised in the case of noise-induced hearing loss and conducted as sound waves via the loudspeaker into the ear.
Outlook & Forecast
The prognosis for noise-induced hearing loss is unfavorable in most cases. The impairment of hearing due to exposure to noise leads to damage to the hair cells in the human ear. Despite all medical advances and possibilities, these cannot be repaired. The damage is permanent and, as things currently stand, irreparable. Therefore, under optimal conditions, it can be assumed that the hearing loss will remain constant for several years.
However, it must be taken into account that in the course of life there is a process of degradation of the functional activity of the hearing. Therefore, a further decrease in hearing usually occurs in the natural aging process. The prognosis is significantly worse if the triggering stimuli remain unchanged. Even if hearing loss is already present, further noise can lead to a loss of hair cells that are still present.
In the human ear there are around 3000 inner hair cells in each ear canal. These are largely responsible for hearing. If they are damaged due to the effects of external noise, medication or illness, they can no longer carry out their work. The more hair cells are damaged, the worse the hearing ability. Therefore, in order to make a prognosis, it should be checked what the living conditions of the person concerned are like. In addition, information about the effects of other disruptive factors must be provided.
It can be important to take early action to prevent noise -induced hearing loss, especially for people who are regularly exposed to high noise levels. These measures include regular check-ups by a specialist doctor and, above all, wearing appropriate hearing protection during exposure to noise. In the leisure sector, for example, noise-induced hearing loss can be prevented by avoiding excessive volume levels of music through headphones or when going to discos.
Because the prospect of a full recovery from noise-induced hearing loss is rare, follow-up care focuses on gaining confidence in managing the condition. Those affected are severely restricted in everyday life, sometimes they can no longer communicate with their environment as usual. This often leads to social isolation. Since those affected no longer actively participate in life, they often withdraw into themselves. This can lead to depressive moods. For this, the help of a professional psychologist should be sought in order to better understand your own situation and to be able to deal with it better.
Those affected underestimate certain dangers due to the hearing loss. It cannot be predicted whether the noises in the ear will be permanent or curable. The noises in the ears can lead to persistent irritability and impaired concentration in those affected. The quality of life is significantly reduced by noise-induced hearing loss. Those affected are constantly dependent on help from those around them. It is therefore important to sensitize people to the disease so that they can respond better to those affected. Special hearing aids can sometimes partially eliminate noise-induced hearing loss. A positive course of the disease will not occur. Life expectancy is not affected by the disease.
You can do that yourself
People who suffer from hearing loss can take a critical look at their own lifestyle and possibly make changes.
Strong noise influences should always be avoided. These include listening to loud music, watching TV that is too loud or having a conversation on the phone that is too loud. When visiting concerts or discotheques, it is advisable to be equipped with sufficient hearing protection and not to position oneself next to a loudspeaker. Work with a high noise level should be avoided or should only be carried out with protective measures. Places where there is a lot of noise should be abandoned. They include construction sites or airport flight paths.
In addition to a low noise level, a healthy lifestyle is necessary. Alcohol and drugs should always be avoided. Drugs whose side effects result in damage to the ear canals should only be taken after consulting a doctor. Stress, hectic and mental stress are also to be minimized. Getting enough sleep and clearing up emotional issues are important to maintain good health. Mental as well as physical overload should be avoided. A healthy and balanced dietand sufficient exercise improve general well-being. This supports a successful coping with mental challenges. Conditions that cause dissatisfaction over a longer period of time must be changed and optimized.