Noise-induced Hearing Loss (or NIHL) is permanent damage to the sensitive hearing organ, the cochlea, and or auditory nerve, caused by exposure to loud sounds in the environment. The effects can be immediate or may take time to become noticeable and the hearing loss can be temporary or permanent depending on the damage done. It can affect one or both ears and can be happening even if you aren’t aware of any pain.
It can be difficult to know if you have Noise-induced Hearing Loss as it can be very gradual in its onset and hard to notice over time. It can happen at any time and at any age. Some signs that you may have NIHL are an inability to hear high-pitched sounds, difficulty hearing conversations in noisy spaces, and hearing only muffled sounds when attempting to hear speech at a distance.
Over time, if left untreated, your hearing can continue to deteriorate and you may find yourself losing lower frequencies too. This can make understanding speech very difficult.
Sound is measured in a unit called decibels and a normal conversation in a public place, like a restaurant or office, is around 60dB. In comparison watching the TV or listening to the radio is around 70dBs and a dishwasher or food blender is about 80-88dB. Daily exposure to as few as 90dB of noise over a prolonged period of several hours can lead to hearing loss in the long term.