Susan Adams, Tinnitus Expert
Did you ever go to a loud concert and hear ringing in your ears afterwards, but didn't worry about it because it's always gone away before? Did you think that maybe next time you might use ear plugs, but didn't when "next time" came around? Sometime later, perhaps, you noticed that the ringing never really stopped. What’s going on?
Noise Can Damage Hearing at Any Age
Noise is one of the leading causes of hearing loss among the 48 million Americans who have hearing loss. While noise exposure can damage hearing at any age, research has shown that young people are increasingly at risk due to recreational activities involving music. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, over 1 billion young adults are at risk of permanent, avoidable hearing loss due to unsafe listening practices. It’s not only about music, however. There are other everyday sounds in our environment that can be dangerously loud and can cause damage to our ears. Think of the noise associated with certain kitchen appliances, a loud subway train, power tools, video arcades, and even an aerobics class in a gym. All of these sounds, if loud enough, over time can cause damage.
Hearing loss, of course, is not the only result of exposure to dangerous levels of sound. Exposure to loud noise can cause tinnitus—a ringing, buzzing, or roaring in the ears or head. Tinnitus is often the first symptom of noise exposure, and, initially, the ringing will usually disappear shortly after the exposure stops. With repeated exposure, however, the tinnitus can become permanent. There are about 50 million people in the United States who have tinnitus. For about 10 million, the tinnitus is severe enough for them to seek treatment, and for 2 million, it can be so debilitating that it significantly compromises all aspects of their lives.
If immediately after a noisy experience you sense ringing or buzzing (tinnitus) in the ears, and/or slight muffling of sounds, making it difficult to understand people, your ears are giving you warning signs. Whenever you experience hearing issues like these, you are encouraged to see a licensed audiologist who can assess your hearing, address any issues and help you protect the hearing you have. For ongoing tinnitus, you are also encouraged to see an ear doctor for a thorough examination to determine if there may be another medical condition causing your tinnitus.
3 Steps to Healthy Hearing
The best way to avoid tinnitus and/or hearing loss due to noise exposure is to follow CHC's 3 Steps to Healthy Hearing.
Limit Noise Exposure - The first line of defense is to limit your exposure to noise. You can do that by listening to your smartphone at safe listening levels and avoiding any environment with dangerous levels of noise. On those occasions when you find yourself in a noisy environment, ear plugs and other kinds of hearing protection can save your hearing.
Get Your Hearing Screening - Make annual hearing screening a part of your overall health and wellness program. CHC's offers a free online hearing screening (ages 18 and over) that takes just five minutes and provides immediate results.
Follow Up with an Audiologist - If your screening suggests a hearing loss, follow up with a complete hearing evaluation with a licensed audiologist and heed your audiologist's recommendations.
If you do have permanent tinnitus that is beginning to interfere with your quality of life, I suggest you consider working with an audiologist to help remediate the problem. At CHC we offer Tinnitus Retraining Therapy or TRT, which is a habituation-oriented therapy program and is based on neurophysiological principles. It involves extensive directive counseling sessions and sound therapy delivered through ear-level devices as well as the use of environmental sound. It does not involve surgery or medication. Our experience with TRT since 1998 has resulted in improved outcomes for about 80% of our clients, with tinnitus no longer being a problem for them.
If you find yourself experiencing occasional tinnitus after exposure to loud noise, “listen" to this warning sign and help spread the word on International Noise Awareness Day—and every day to learn how to protect your hearing and protect your health.
Inquire about scheduling a free, 15-minute phone consultation with a CHC audiologist specializing in Tinnitus Retraining Therapy. Call 917-305-7751 or use the button below.