Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL)

What is noise-induced hearing loss /NIHL?

A noise-induced hearing loss (also called NIHL) is a permanent hearing loss caused by prolonged exposure to high levels of noise. The hearing deteriorates gradually from the noise exposure.

Excessive noise exposure is one of the most common causes of hearing loss.

When you have a noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), the hair cells in your inner ear have been damaged by the exposure to noise. The hair cells’ ability to pick-up and transmit sound to the brain is therefore reduced. A noise-induced hearing loss is therefore a type of sensorineural hearing loss.

Symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss

A noise-induced hearing loss can in some cases occur suddenly after exposure to very loud noise such as an explosion or other loud noises. In these cases, you often very clearly notice that you have lost some of your hearing.

In most cases, a noise-induced hearing loss develops gradually as a result of long-lasting exposure to noise. This can be work-noise or noise from leisure activities. When a noise-induced hearing loss develops gradually, it is harder to perceive.

The noise induced hearing loss symptoms and signs, like many other types of hearing loss, are for example:

  • Trouble hearing what other people are saying, like people are mumbling,
  • Problems hearing children and women’s voices
  • Problems hearing at meetings and social gatherings
  • Problems hearing/understanding speech in noisy surroundings, like in a restaurant

If people are saying that your TV is turned up to loud or say that you speak too loudly, this can also be a sign of a noise-induced hearing loss.

A noise-induced hearing loss is often accompanied by tinnitus – a ringing, whooshing, roaring or buzzing sounds in your ears, also more commonly known as ringing ears.

Prevention of noise-induced hearing loss

You can prevent a noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) by turning down the volume, reducing the time you are exposed to the loud noise and/or using hearing protection.

Get your hearing checked

If you think that you might have a noise-induced hearing loss, we recommend that you get your hearing checked. Book an appointment at your nearest Ear Institute today!