Studies have shown that 50% of us will suffer from some form of hearing loss in our lives. There are various reasons and causes for this, affecting different areas of the ear and spectrum’s of hearing. Some people are born with deafness but most develop it throughout life. A large amount of people only see the symptoms of hearing loss in old age. Because of this most people believe that age is the cause of it. Hearing machine are topping the chart in conducting hearing loss tests.
Although this is true in some cases, many people are suffering from noise induced hearing loss from many years of exposure to excessive noise. Generally this was caused by working environments being too loud and no protection provided. Industrial deafness affects the hearing in a very particular way. The loud noise creates ‘free radicals’ that in turn damage the inner hairs that are needed to pick up sound. This damage is irreversible so can have a dramatic affect on your life. Noise induced hearing loss can be differentiated from other forms of deafness by the areas of hearing that are affected. Only the high frequency spectrum is affected, meaning that a sufferer will struggle to hear sounds such as female speech and the phone ringing.
Establishing noise induced hearing loss is possible with a hearing test. The resulting audio gram will show a dip just in the high frequencies. This then shows that the deafness had to have been caused by noise. If there is loss across other frequencies it is harder to determine the cause and need hearing device. There could be noise induced deafness but will also be other forms too.
Noise doesn’t have to be as loud as you may think to cause industrial deafness. Most people believe that only very loud sounds such as explosions have the capacity to cause hearing loss; this isn’t the case. Noises of 85dB and above can cause damage. To put this into perspective, average traffic can exceed this so as you can image, many people are exposed to dangerous noises everyday. Crossing the road once a day won’t make you deaf as length of exposure has a large impact. If you were working on the motorway all day, unprotected for days on end, you would be at risk. The exposure times and volumes can be calculated as follows;
- 85dB has the potential to cause deafness in 8 hours
- 90dB has the potential to cause deafness in 4 hours
- 95dB has the potential to cause deafness in 2 hours
- 100dB has the potential to cause deafness in 1 hour
- 105dB has the potential to cause deafness in 30 minutes
For every 5db increase in volume, the time needed to potentially cause hearing loss is halved.
Many professions are loud enough to cause deafness in the period of a working day so protection from noise is very important. Now there are regulations to protect against hearing loss in the work place and by law employers have to protect their staff or they would be liable for hearing loss compensation and need hearing machine. Unfortunately though, many workers wouldn’t have been protected through the years and are now suffering. Protection may have been provided but not made mandatory, this is still a breach of working law.
Noise isn’t the only cause of hearing loss, there are varies others. Age can be a factor and age related deafness is called Presbyacusis, which occurs due to the deterioration of parts within the ear. Illness can also cause deafness for various reasons. One being that it can affect blood circulation to the ear but even medication prescribed can lead to loss. Another cause can be damage to the ear, usually from perforating the eardrum. This can be caused by infection or even using ear buds.