A noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) is the second most common type of hearing loss after presbyacusis (age related hearing loss). The sad reality is that it is 100% preventable. The key factors that cause this type of hearing loss are excessive noise and duration.

Generally speaking, sounds below 75dB are safe but sounds above 85dB are harmful. There are 2 main causes of NIHL. Those caused by excessive noise over a prolonged period and those caused by a sudden very loud noise such as an explosion. Here are some very common causes of NIHL:

Listening to music with headphones, riding motorcycles, working in a noisy environment and shooting of firearms.

A NIHL occurs when the tiny hair cells in the inner ear get damaged – they do not repair themselves. These hair cells are responsible for picking up sounds and converting it into electrical signals which are then transmitted to the brain. A simple analogy is to imagine these hair cells as wheat growing in a field. If there are only gentle breezes or short periods of high wind then the wheat will probably not be damaged and will retain it’s upright status. If however there are prolonged periods of high winds or a short hurricane then the wheat will be flattened beyond repair.


So what should I do?

  • In the first instance, get your hearing tested. Most hearing losses occur gradually over a period of time so may go undiagnosed for many years.  Slater Audiology Ltd offer free hearing tests to everyone without obligation.
  • Avoid exposure to prolonged loud noise or sudden very loud noises. If you use an iPod then limit the volume which can be done in the settings. Avoid places with excessive noise or wear ear protection. Your hearing aid audiologist can advise on the options available to you. Don’t let it get any worse.
  • If it is found that you have a NIHL then a hearing aid may be the solution. It will not “cure” your hearing loss but will enhance your quality of life. At Slater Audiology we provide the whole range of hearing instruments available. There are numerous cosmetic solutions and some amazing technology available.
  • If your hearing loss has been a result of the working enviroment that you found yourself in, and adequate protection was not provided for you, you may be entitled to compensation. For further information contact Slater Audiology.