Acoustic Trauma: What It Is, And What To Do About It

We live in a world filled with noise. Soft noise, loud noise, beautiful noise, obnoxious noise…it is everywhere, and much of it we just ignore as we go about our day. But when the decibel levels get too high, or a low decibel noise is persistent and we are exposed to it for a very long time, it can cause damage to the eardrum.

This damage is called acoustic trauma, and it is one of the leading causes of hearing loss in people the world over.

Symptoms Of Acoustic Trauma

  • Tinnitus – A sound originating from the inner ear, either consistent or occasional. This may include ringing, popping, hissing, crackling, droning, or other noises.
  • Loss of Hearing In One Or Both Ears – A sudden drop in the ability to hear, usually over time beginning with a small decrease in hearing clarity. You may find yourself have a harder time understanding people when they speak to you, or having to turn up the television or radio to make out what is on.
  • Complete Deafness In One Of Both Ears – A total lack of ability to hear. This is rarely a sudden onset symptom, and instead starts with hearing loss. A sudden loss of all hearing should be checked out by a doctor immediately.

Causes Of Acoustic Trauma

There are two primary reasons for acoustic trauma: injury, or loud noise exposure. Knowing which was the cause may assist in treatment, and in preventing further problems that could arise due to continued damage.

In the case of injury, a blow to the head or penetration into the ear drum can be the culprit. But an inner ear infection may also be the source.

For those caused by noise exposure, it can be trickier to isolate the cause. If you work in a loud environment, industrial deafness is a definite possibility. But sudden loud noises, such as being nearby an explosion, gun shot or crash, could also cause the problem. Even exposure over time, or something as simple as a loud concert, could create acoustic trauma that is irreversible.

Prevention and Treatment Of Acoustic Trauma

Prevention is of the utmost importance, when it comes to acoustic trauma. The eardrum is highly delicate, and any damage may not properly heal. By the time you experience symptoms it could be too late to do anything more than stop the progression of the condition.

Use proper ear protective gear when in a loud place, never stick anything into your ear, and seek professional care any time you suspect an infection. If you are already experiencing symptoms of acoustic trauma, go see your doctor. They may be able to isolate the underlying cause and treat the issue, but most will only be able to help you learn to cope with it.

Acoustic trauma is a serious condition, and a frustrating one. But you can protect yourself with a little prevention and forethought.

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