Treatments for Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

We’re exposed to sounds every day. But at a certain volume, sounds can damage our hearing long term. This is known as noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), and it can have a vast impact on your life, making it critical to protect your hearing when exposed to loud sounds and to get immediate treatment if you ever notice any signs of hearing loss.

NIHL can be gradual or immediate (acute). For example, you may be exposed to loud noise for a long period, damaging your hearing over time. When NIHL is acute, your hearing is affected immediately as a result of a loud burst like an explosion or gunshot. In some cases, the hearing loss can possibly be prevented with high, oral dose steroids or Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT). In the case of gradual hearing loss, further damage can be prevented, but early intervention is key.

In terms of immediate noise-induced hearing loss, if treatment doesn’t work, the hearing structures in the ear are likely irreparably damaged. Luckily, modern audio specialists offer ample solutions to balance out your hearing with specialized products like hearing aids, cochlear implants, and more.

Common Symptoms of NIHL

NIHL can be immediate or gradual, temporary or permanent, and affect one or both ears. But if sounds begin to sound muffled, if you feel pressure in your ears, or hear any unusual ringing (tinnitus) – you may be experiencing noise-induced hearing loss symptoms. Unfortunately, by then, your hearing is already damaged. 

Noticing any changes in your hearing requires immediate attention. We’ll reiterate that in the case of immediate NIHL, you may be able to prevent hearing loss with medical attention. In some cases, immediate NIHL from a loud burst of sound will disappear within 24 hours. 

However, if your hearing does not return after 24 hours, it may be an indication that severe damage has been caused to the internal structure of your ear. As a result, you’ll require some form of rehabilitation from a registered audiologist. 

When it comes to gradual hearing loss, getting tested right away can help you identify the cause of the hearing loss so that you can remove yourself from the source or protect your ears from further damage. For example, you could use specialized ear muffs or other noise protection devices. 

Adults also decrease their risk of cognitive decline, like Alzheimer’s or dementia, if they get treatment early. Early interventions also help children avoid any delays or learning difficulties that could come with hearing loss during their developmental years. 

Acute Noise-Induced Hearing Loss 

Acute noise-hearing loss can be caused by a single event, like the sound of an explosion or gunshot. The sound is so loud that it damages the eardrum and the middle ear bones. In these cases, the sound immediately and permanently affects your hearing.

On top of hearing loss, another noise-induced hearing loss symptom is tinnitus. Tinnitus is the sound of roaring, ringing, or buzzing in the head or ears – without there being any actual sound. It can happen occasionally or all the time, and it be exceptionally disruptive. We’ll reiterate that if you experience any NIHL symptoms, you’ll need noise-induced hearing loss treatment right away.

Rehabilitation & Support Services

Getting your hearing tested involves a diagnostic, non-invasive hearing test. It’s painless and will assess your ability to hear pitches, sounds, and frequencies. It’s also known as audiometry evaluation to gauge whether or not you need a hearing aid or a surgical procedure (implant) to improve your hearing. 

This is performed by a registered audiologist in a soundproof room, and there are a variety of tests available. At NYC Hearing Associates, we offer the pure tone audiometry test, speech discrimination test, and tympanometry test to get a holistic idea of what might be at play so that we can put together a personalized noise-induced hearing loss treatment plan for you. 

If you’re affected by hearing loss, seeking guidance from your audio professional is paramount to help you adjust to your new hearing device. They can also give you other adjustment tips and tricks.

Coping Strategies for Those Living With NIHL

Did you know that as of 2023, approximately 13% of adults ages 18 and up experience some difficulty hearing even when using a hearing aid? If you’re affected by NIHL, remember that you are not alone – there’s ample help out there.

Since the invention of the first hearing aid more than 100 years ago, scientists and hearing specialists have made massive strides in solving hearing loss problems. Now, there’s a wide market of high-quality hearing aids available, as well as a selection of effective rehabilitation and treatment programs to choose from.

This means that experiencing noise-induced hearing loss is not as limiting as it once was, and although it’s most certainly an adjustment, you can still lead an enjoyable and fulfilling life. On top of joining support groups and opting for NIHL prevention methods, partnering with a leading audiologist plays a central role in your journey to improved hearing and a better life.

If you’re currently affected by NIHL or require protective wear to prevent hearing loss, contact a member of our team, and one of our registered audiologists will guide you through your next steps.