Turn It Down, Your Hair Cells Will Thank You

 
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Post by: Ellie Zuber

Sun’s out, windows down, music (way) up. Few things beat cruising around in the last few warm days before fall fully kicks in, but this pastime could cost you down the road. Frequent exposure to loud noise, whether that be loud music coming out of your car radio or earbuds, often times leads to noise-induced hearing loss.

In fact, a 2-hour rock concert could cause a change in your hearing sensitivity forever. Noise-induced hearing loss is characterized by a high frequency (or high pitch) hearing loss. As loud sounds travel through the outer ear and middle ear and into the inner ear, the sound waves travel across the hair cells that sit on our hearing organ called the cochlea. The hair cells responsible for high pitch sounds are at the very beginning of this organ, with take the majority of the trauma from loud sounds.

A high pitch hearing loss causes speech to sound less clear making it sound like people are mumbling rather than speaking clearly, and this is only treated with hearing aids. With today’s world being noisier and noisier every day, noise-induced hearing loss is becoming more and more popular. In fact, an estimated 25% of adults (age 20-69 years old) have a noise induced hearing loss. And this number is expected to increase rapidly within the next several years.

So, what can you do? If you are around loud sounds, the best option is to turn the noise down, but when this is not possible, the next best option is to wear hearing protection (ear plugs). Moral of the story: turn down the music and put in the ear plugs.

 

Citation:

https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/news/2017/us-adults-aged-20-69-years-show-signs-noise-induced-hearing-loss

Anna Bogdon