Most people know that continued exposure to loud noises over time can cause ear damage. But did you know that a single exposure to an excessively loud sound has the possibility to cause irreversible damage too. Shooting a firearm or attending a very loud concert just once has the potential to damage your hearing. Listening to a loud sound for too long on a single occasion can cause permanent hearing loss in addition to other ear injuries.
Ear Injuries from Noise Exposure
Ear damage from loud sounds can result in the following injuries:
• Hearing loss – either a temporary or permanent decrease in high frequency hearing.
• Tinnitus – ringing in the ears that sounds like a tone or hissing.
• Hyperacusis – sensitivity to sound.
• Diplacusis – the pitch of sound is abnormally flat or sharp.
• Processing Disorders – difficulty hearing speech in the presence of background noise.
Ear Trauma from Recreational Noise
Hobbies we enjoy can sometimes harm our ears. Here are a few popular activities that are known to cause ear damage:
• Firearms – Firearms are the #1 cause of recreational noise induced hearing loss. A single gunshot has the potential to cause immediate injury to the ear. A higher caliber rifle, larger gauge shotgun, shorter barrel, muzzle break, increase in rounds fired, and indoor shooting put you at a greater risk for ear injury. Depending on the firearm type, a gunshot can be anywhere from 140dB to over 175dB.
• Fireworks – Firecrackers that explode too close to your ear can cause sudden high frequency hearing loss and tinnitus.
• Concerts – A very loud concert especially in an inside venue can cause permanent ear damage, even in one night, if you’re susceptible to noise induced hearing loss and sit near the speakers.
• Modified earphones/in-ear monitors – If a person has adjusted their earphones or custom monitors from their original design to be louder than what is safe, they can be dangerous.
• Dance clubs – If you spend a full night in an excessively loud dance club near the DJ, its possible to damage your ears.
• Motor sports – NASCAR, IndyCar, Monster Truck shows, utility ATV’s, Jet skis, and motorcycles can produce unsafe noise levels. These noise levels can not only damage the participants ear, but also the hearing of a spectator nearby.
Protect Your Ears form Noisy Activities
There are two types of hearing protection:
1. Passive – Passive hearing protection gives a consistent level of noise reduction. Foam plugs bought at a store or custom ear plugs made by our audiologists are examples of passive protection. Custom plugs give you a consistent fit and reliable protection, while foam plugs can be ineffective if not inserted properly.
2. Active – Active ear protection offers adjustable levels of noise reduction. They are most helpful for hunters who need to hear for safety reasons or to hunt successfully. Non-custom active devices can sometimes allow unsafe sounds to enter the ear, whereas custom fit active protection gives consistent noise reduction while still amplifying soft sounds.
If you have a sudden injury to your ear following noise exposure, it’s important to call us at once. During the first 24-48 hours, our Sound Health ENT physicians may be able to reduce the amount of damage to your hearing with a steroid treatment.
Call Us at (314) 227-0571 to Protect Your Ears from Activities You Love with Custom Ear Plugs!