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California Ear Institute
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Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Exposure to loud noise damages the delicate receptor cells of the inner ear (called hair cells). High frequency noise loss and tinnitus may result. Both the length of exposure and the intensity of sound are important. The amount of sound exposure we receive over a lifetime is cumulative. Protection of hearing should be taught to school age children in order to reduce the chance of hearing impairment later in life. Programs through the Let Them Hear Foundation aim to provide this type of public education.

Protective devices such as earplugs, ear muffs, or musician’s plugs (these customized devices require an ear canal impression and are made in such a way that no sound or intelligibility distortion occurs during use) are critical to hearing preservation in some work and social environments. Importantly, individuals who find themselves in these environments should have routine hearing testing to detect early changes due to noise induced hearing damage. In some instances, hearing damaged by noise exposure may be reversed with medications. In some cases, hearing aids will augment those portions of the speech spectrum where injury has occurred to make speech much more intelligible.





California Ear Institute