​Noise Induced Hearing Loss

We hear all sorts of sounds every day in our lives, such as during conversation, sound from the radio or television, traffic, etc. These sounds are safe for our ears and do not damage unprotected ears. However, very loud sounds can be damaging to our ears, even for a brief time, damaging sensitive structures in the inner ear responsible for hearing. Exposure to such loud and damaging sounds, such as from sandblasting or a jet engine, can lead to noise-induced hearing loss.

Damage to the inner ear can be caused by exposure to a single, very loud noise. This causes immediate noise-induced hearing loss. This disorder can also be caused by moderately loud noise which you have been exposed to over a long period of time. In this case, it can take longer to notice the symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss since you may not even realize you may be damaging your hearing. In some cases, sudden injury to the head can also cause injuries in the inner ear, leading to sudden loss of hearing.

Noise-induced hearing loss could be temporary or permanent or could affect one or both ears. However, you can prevent noise-induced hearing loss by taking the right measures to protect your ears.

You may get exposed to an extremely loud sound suddenly, leading to an immediate loss of hearing. If you have been exposed to loud sounds over a prolonged period of time without protective gear for the ears, symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss will advance gradually.
Symptoms that you will start noticing include:

  • Decreased ability to understand conversations because of not being able to hear others, especially when background noise is high, such as in a crowded room.

  • Difficulty understanding selective speech, such as people suffering from hearing loss may stop hearing consonants (non-vowel alphabets) first.

  • Feeling of decreased volume of sounds that you hear.

  • Reduced ability to tell which direction a sound is coming from.

  • Buzzing or ringing sound in the ear (tinnitus).

If you suspect that you have been exposed to loud noise and exhibit any of the above symptoms, visit an ENT (Eye-Nose-Throat) specialist at The Aga Khan University Hospital, to have your symptoms evaluated.

Symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss, primarily loss of hearing, may also occur due to other disorders, such as earwax blockage. If you have a history of being exposed to loud sounds by nature of your job or any other reason, or if you have been exposed suddenly to a very loud sound and are encountering these symptoms, it is important to get yourself checked by an ENT specialist.

Our team of highly qualified ENT specialists are internationally trained in ear care and hearing disorders and can diagnose your hearing problem and recommend the best way to manage it.

Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.

To be able to diagnose the cause of your hearing loss, your doctor will ask you about the kinds of sounds you have been exposed to during different times of your life. Frequently being exposed to loud sounds could make the doctor suspect the presence of noise-induced hearing loss. A physical examination of your ear using a special instrument called an otoscope will also be conducted to rule out other causes of hearing loss, such as earwax blockage. A hearing test may also be conducted to identify which frequencies of sound you can and cannot hear.

Hearing loss caused by noise that has damaged structures inside the ear may not be reversible. You will be able to manage your symptoms, however, for instance with the help of hearing aids or implants in the ear which help enhance the volume of sounds. In some cases, doctors may prescribe oral steroid medications to treat your symptoms.

You must get your hearing checked regularly to monitor changes in your hearing ability and modify hearing aid as required.

Noise-induced hearing loss can be prevented, however. Using ear protection if you work at a job where you are exposed to loud sounds over a prolonged period will help reduce the probability of developing this disorder. If you can’t protect yourself, moving away from a source of loud sound, protecting children who are too young to protect their ears from loud sounds, being alert about hazardous sounds in your environment are also ways of preventing noise-induced hearing loss.

Early detection of noise-induced hearing loss is important for preventing the disease from progressing further. Therefore, if you suspect you may be suffering from hearing loss, have been exposed to loud sounds, or face any of the symptoms discussed above, you should seek professional medical advice immediately.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.