Hearing loss, which refers to a condition in which hearing is reduced or lost due to a problem in the hearing system, is caused by congenital ear problems, damage to the auditory nerve, rupture of the eardrum, and otitis media. Noise-induced hearing loss is one of these types of hearing loss, and it refers to a state in which hearing is deteriorated due to the destruction of the auditory cells of the cochlea due to prolonged exposure to continuous noise.
The biggest cause of noise-induced hearing loss is prolonged exposure to loud noises. Among them, the risk factor most affecting the occurrence is listening at a high volume with earphones. In particular, on the street or on public transportation, the volume of earphones is raised even more due to noise, and this action continuously stimulates the cochlea and causes hearing loss. It is also known that short exposure to powerful loud sounds such as explosions and prolonged exposure to loud machinery sounds can also cause it.
In the past, noise-induced hearing loss mainly occurred in occupational groups working in noisy workplaces. However, recently, due to the habit of using earphones for a long time, there are many noise-induced hearing loss patients even in the general public, not in a specific occupational group. In addition, it is reported that the number of earphones is increasing every year, especially among young people in their 10s and 30s, who use a lot of earphones. Now, let’s take a look at the main symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss, as well as various information on prevention and management.
Main symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss
When the symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss appear, normal communication becomes a problem, and it is especially difficult to communicate in a noisy environment. In addition, consonants in the high-pitched range, such as ㅎ, ㅎ, and ㅎ, become difficult to hear, and the ability to discriminate against consonants such as ㄱ, ㄴ, and c gradually decreases. Also, you will not be able to recognize your own voice and will speak loudly, and you will not hear the other person’s voice as clearly as if you were muttering. In addition, this feeling of fullness or blockage of the ear and tinnitus, a feeling of hearing sound even when there is no special external stimulus, are also major symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss.
Because noise-induced hearing loss is difficult to recognize in the early stages, even if a problem occurs, it is often overlooked or neglected. If the symptoms worsen due to delay in treatment, the symptoms of dizziness, fatigue, stress, and headache including tinnitus symptoms will gradually worsen, and normal communication may cause many difficulties in daily life. Therefore, it is important to receive early diagnosis and appropriate treatment when the symptoms mentioned above appear. In particular, as it is known that hearing cannot be restored once damaged, it is more important to improve various lifestyle habits that cause hearing loss and to prevent it on a regular basis than treatment.
Prevention and management of noise-induced hearing loss
1. Control the use of earphones and headphones
To prevent noise-induced hearing loss, it is recommended to avoid listening with the earphone volume too high and listening for a long time. The volume of earphones and headphones should not exceed 50~60% of the maximum, and it is recommended not to use them in a noisy place as there is a risk of increasing the volume of the sound without knowing it due to external noise. Also, the earphones should not be used for more than 2 hours.
2. Use noise-reducing earplugs
It is said that it is an important habit to prevent noise-induced hearing loss by using soundproof earplugs that can block noise when staying for a long time at a noisy work site or construction site. And in karaoke, clubs, and concert halls, it is important to avoid the front seats of loudspeakers that amplify loud sounds. .
3. Controlling alcohol consumption and quitting smoking
Because alcohol and tobacco act as factors that cause abnormalities in the normal blood circulation in the auditory organ, it is recommended to limit and control them. In addition, excessive consumption of caffeinated foods such as coffee, tea, and drinks can also cause problems, so it should be consumed in moderation. In addition, as it is known that antibiotics and antipyretic analgesics can affect hearing function, it is recommended that you decide whether to take it after consulting with a specialist if you have a weak hearing organ or a family history related to hearing loss.
In addition, it is recommended that you get a hearing test as soon as possible if you have symptoms of stuffy ears or ringing. Also, if you have hearing loss, you should have a hearing test every 6 months to once a year after treatment.