uly 4 is a time when Americans celebrate their freedom
with NOISE, NOISE, NOISE. Daily we are all at risk of
noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) from traffic, vacuum
cleaners, alarm clocks, lawnmowers, and music. But July 4
brings especially great threats to hearing: bottle
rockets, firecrackers, cherry bombs, parades, stock car
races and more. Noise exposure is a serious-yet
Hearing loss due to noise is permanent and occurs when
hair cells in the inner ear are damaged and can no longer
signal the auditory nerve to send electrical
impulses-sounds-to the brain. Hearing loss from noise
does not affect hearing sensitivity for all pitches in
the same way. Hearing loss begins in the higher
frequencies or pitches. As the loss progresses, it
extends to other frequencies that affect your ability to
hear speech sounds.
Noise induced hearing loss
(NIHL) is caused by exposure to loud sounds and
usually occurs painlessly over a period of time, but may
occur from one exposure to an extremely loud noise.
Research suggests the NIHL is occurring at younger ages
and with more frequency.
Types of Hearing Loss
Conductive - hearing loss caused by problems in the outer
and/or middle ear (e.g., resulting from ear infections,
abnormal ear structures)
Sensorineural - hearing loss caused by problems in the
inner ear or the 8th cranial nerve that carries the
auditory signals to the brain (results from such causes
as meningitis, noise exposure, problems at birth)
Mixed - a combination of conductive and sensorineural
It's too loud if:
- You must raise your voice to be heard.
- You have difficulty understanding someone who is an
arm's distance away.
- You have ringing or buzzing in your ears after
exposure to loud noises.
- Speech sounds muffled or dull after noise exposure.
- Avoid and limit periods of exposure to noise.
- Wear hearing protectors: earplugs and/or
- Buy quiet! Don't buy noisy appliances, equipment,
An estimated thirty million people nationwide are
exposed to dangerous levels of noise each day. Noise not
only affects hearing. It also affects other parts of the
body and the quality of a person's life.
Other effects of noise
- Increases blood pressure
- Affects the rate of breathing
- Causes an upset stomach or an ulcer
- Contributes to the premature birth of babies
- Makes it difficult to sleep, even after the noise
hearing health care professionals who specialize in
preventing, identifying and assessing hearing disorders
as well as providing audiologic treatment including
hearing aids and other assistive listening devices.
Speech-language pathologists are
the professionals who identify, assess, and treat speech
and language problems including swallowing disorders.
the national, professional, scientific, and credentialing
association for more than 120,000 audiologists,
speech-language pathologists, and speech, language, and