Noise induced hearing loss is prevalent in our society, affecting tens of millions of Americans. Exposure to loud noises either very loud all at once, or moderately loud over a long period of time, can cause a characteristic noise related hearing loss. Over long period of time we can actually have quite severe hearing loss at numerous frequencies. However, a sudden noise induced hearing drop will often present a decline at 4000 Hz and 6000 Hz.
These are fairly high frequencies, not directly used in person to person speech, however damage to this zone of the hearing organ, the cochlea, can cause a lot of problems with hearing In background noise. Difficulty in hearing when in noisy background situations is in fact one of the first signs of a high and medium frequency hearing loss.
Other early signs of this type of nerve hearing loss may include difficulty in hearing women’s voices, children’s voices, or those with an accent other than your own. Many people will also have difficulty using the telephone or listening to a television across the room.
Noise induced hearing loss may occur suddenly like after a gunshot or a loud concert. You may experience a ringing in the ears or sound of hollowness in your ears. Hopefully this will clear up, but often it does not fully resolve. Many times the hearing loss from the loud noise event is permanent nerve damage.
From a medical standpoint, corticosteroid medications can be given which may help to curb some of the damage. Certain vitamins have also shown to be a little bit effective.
If you do experiences sudden change in hearing, or suspect you may have a gradual noise related here in damage, I recommend that we get in for a full hearing evaluation with either an audiologist for an ear nose and throat physician.