Loud noises are a part of life. The sound level of heavy traffic or an alarm clock is about 80 decibels. A chain saw or pneumatic drill registers about 100 decibels. A rock concert, thunder clap, or rifle blast can generate sound ranging from 120 to 140 decibels.
Some warning signs of dangerous noise levels are the need to shout over background noise to be heard, noise that hurts the ears, ringing in the ears or temporary hearing loss after exposure to noise.
Continued exposure to loud noise can gradually damage your hearing as severely as a singe explosion close to the ear. Noise can accelerate the normal deterioration that occurs as you age.
The best treatment for nerve damage is prevention. Earplugs can reduce sound intensity by 10 to 15 decibels. A good pair of earmuffs can reduce it by 20 to 30 decibels. Even though it may seem inconvenient to wear earplugs or earmuffs, these devices can protect your ears from noise pollution. They should be worn whenever you work with machinery, cut the grass or shoot a gun.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) strictly regulates the amount of noise exposure and the length of exposure allowed in the workplace. OSHA requires mandatory ear protection for employees exposed to noise above a certain level.
If a person has already suffered permanent damage and hearing loss, hearing aids can be very helpful.
Ringing in the ears can be caused by exposure to loud noises, but loud ringing in only one ear should be investigated by an ear specialist to rule out other causes, such as a benign growth on the hearing nerve.
For additional information or to make an appointment, please contact River Cities Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists, P.L.L.C. at (304) 522-8800 or (800) 955-3277.
Joseph B. Touma, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Touma Ear and Balance Center
1616 13th Avenue, Suite 100
Huntington, WV 25701
304.522.8800 or 800.955.3277