Noise-induced Hearing Loss or NIHL is unlike deafness by heredity or childhood meningitis in many ways. People who are deaf from childood have a greater sense of community belonging than those who ‘suffer’ from NIHL. Put clearly, the former category considers deafness as a natural condition, while for the latter category it is indeed an affliction.
The causes of NIHL
Broadly, there are two kinds of Noise-induced Hearing Loss. The first category refers to people who lose their hearing ability due to the sudden impulse of a heavy noise burst, such as an explosion. Extremely loud outbursts of sound can permanently damage the middle ear bones or rupture the eardrum, causing irreversible deafness. However, it can also be temporary. Many people are unable to hear anything after a loud sound impulse, but the sounds begin to return in a day or two.
The second group of people suffering from NIHL refers to the victims of occupational hazards or lifestyle activities. People working in the manufactiring industry are particularly prone because of the constant noise of the machines.
Similarly, workers in the woordworking industry are also susceptible to developing hearing disabilities. Certain lifestyle habits such as regularly listening to high decibel music in earbuds or headphones can also result in some form of hearing loss. However, this is somewhat a contentious argument. Movie sound engineers and rock band members constantly absorb high volumes of noise and continue with their work.
Symptoms of NIHL
The most common symptom of NIHL is a condition called tinnitus. This unique sign of appropaching deafness characterizes itself as a persistent buzzing, ringing, roaring noise in one or both ears.
NIHL does not happen in a day. If you are in a profession that demands constant exposure to noise at high decibels, you may begin to lose your hearing gradually. Sounds may become lessened, muffled, or distorted. You may have trouble speaking over the telephone, or have to say ‘excuse me’ several times because you are suddenly unable to hear clearly.
Actually, the regular exposure to high noise kills the hearing cells in the internal ear. Currently, medical science has no means of restoring the dying cells, and the gradual damage is permanent.
Workers in a noisy factory setting should use earmuffs and earplugs. If possible, seek alternative employment in an environment that does not include high exposure to noise. Consciousness of the perils of noise exposure is also important. Unless there is sufficient social consciousness, engineering and manufacturing segments will pay the least attention to developing machines that work at low decibels.