Hearing Loss Problems

By: Jarrod Aldom
By: Jarrod Aldom

From loud bangs to everyday sounds. Each year millions of Americans are affected by noise induced hearing loss, and WHSV found out the effects can be long-term and permanent.

Mowing the lawn, working in the garage, even blow-drying your hair, all of these can potentially cause hearing loss.

"We live in a world or society where there's noise everywhere," says UVA Medical Center otolaryngologist Dr. George Hashisaki. "I think potentially all of us are at risk for noise-induced hearing loss."

The damage happens when sound vibrations destroy hair cells in your inner ear. There are two kinds of noise that can cause hearing loss. One is acoustic trauma, or a single loud blast like a cannon shot. The second type is more difficult to pinpoint.

"It comes on slowly and that's when someone may be exposed to relatively loud noise for a prolonged period of time," explains Hashisaki. "They may not be aware they're damaging their hearing but slow small losses can occur."

The government says any exposure to noises above 90 decibels for eight hours of time can cause damage. The louder the sound, the less time it takes to cause damage. Dr. Hashisaki says everyday things like personal stereos can reach over 100 decibels in intensity.

"It really has to do with how loud is that noise at the level of the eardrum," says Dr. Hashisaki. "It is possible since those headsets go into your ear canal to deliver a fairly loud and intense sound."

Dr. Hashisaki says the best way to prevent hearing loss is to use earplugs or earmuffs in places of high noise. He says people should get a hearing test every four or five years.

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