Hearing loss is most often caused by aging or exposure to loud noises. Below we break down how loud noises can damage your hearing and what, if anything, you can do to prevent this from happening.
How Your Ear Works
Your ear is broken down into three parts.
The Outer Ear
This is the part of the ear that you see. It is responsible for capturing soundwaves and funneling them into the ear canal where they reach the eardrum.
The Middle Ear
When a soundwave hits the eardrum, it creates a vibration. This vibration is passed along through three tiny bones in the middle ear, which can amplify or increase the sound vibration before passing it along to the inner ear.
The Inner Ear
Within the inner ear is a snail-shaped, fluid-filled structure known as the cochlea. A sound vibration causes the fluid with the cochlea to move, bending the tiny hair cells along the wall of the structure. The hair cells are responsible for converting the vibrations into electrical signals that are then passed through the auditory nerve to the brain where they are interpreted as sound.
Hearing Loss from Noise
Loud noises damage the hair cells that line the cochlea. On average, people are born with about 16,000 hair cells within their cochlea. Up to 30 to 50 percent of these hairs must be damaged before you experience a noticeable change in your hearing.
Loud noises can bend these hair cells. After a few hours or days, the hairs may be able to straighten, and your hearing will return to normal. But after frequent exposure, the hair cells can die. Once dead, these hair cells cannot be repaired or regrown.
Protecting Your Hearing
You can protect your hearing by following these simple tips:
- Wear ear plugs
- Turn down the volume
- Limit the number of appliances running at a time
- Buy quieter products
To learn more about noise-induced hearing loss or how to protect your hearing, contact the experts at Indiana Hearing Specialists.