shutterstock_199580039.jpeg (shutterstock_199580039.webp)When we listen to music in the car, watch our favorite television shows, or attend concerts with our friends, we typically do not consider the health risks associated with these enjoyable activities. But it is important to be aware that any loud, long-lasting sounds we are exposed to can cause damage to the sensitive structures in our ears and can cause noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).   

What Is Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?

An estimated 5.2 million adolescents and 26 million adults suffer from permanent hearing damage as a result of exposure to loud noise. Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is a result of damage to the structures and nerve fibers in your inner ear that are responsible for responding to sound. NIHL can occur gradually as a result of frequent exposure to loud noises over an extended period of time, or it can occur as a result of a single exposure to a very loud noise such as a gunshot. 

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, there are three factors that put you at risk of noise-induced hearing loss: 

  1. How loud the noise is
  2. How close you are to the noise
  3. How long you hear the noise 

What Causes Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?

Our ability to hear is dependent on a series of complex steps that involve changing sound waves into electric signals. These electric signals are carried to our brain by our auditory nerve and translated into recognizable sounds. An important step in this process involves the passage of sound waves through the basilar membrane in our ear. The basilar membrane is the base in which key hearing structures of our ear are located. Hair cells are located at the top of the basilar membrane. These hair cells are responsible for relaying sound information to our brain. NIHL is typically a result of damage to these hair cells. Once these hair cells die, they are unable to grow back, thus causing permanent hearing loss.  

Ear Damage Symptoms: Signs of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Early detection and prevention of hearing loss is important. So how do you know if your hearing loss may be caused by exposure to loud noise? Here are some signs that may be indicative of noise-induced hearing loss:

  • Difficulty understanding soft/ high pitch sounds 
  • Speech or other sounds seem muffled
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Difficulty understanding conversations in noisy public settings
  • Difficulty understanding speech over the phone
  • Certain sounds cause pain or discomfort
  • Having to constantly turn up the volume of the television or radio

If you are struggling with any of these symptoms, it may be time to get your hearing tested by one of the hearing professionals at Francis Audiology. Their various testing services allow audiologists to determine the degree of your hearing loss, the type of hearing loss, and the conditions of your ear canal and middle ear. Do not allow your condition to worsen. Find out what the expert audiologists at Francis Audiology can do for you. 

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Treatment: Pittsburgh Audiologist 

Our ability to hear not only allows us to enjoy certain sounds, but it is key to communication and social development. Studies have proven that children who suffered from hearing loss had higher levels of behavioral issues compared to children with adequate hearing abilities. Luckily, noise-induced hearing loss is preventable. As a resident in Pittsburgh, PA, here are some ways that you can actively avoid the consequences of NIHL:

  • Be aware of noises that can cause hearing damage- Sound levels are measured in decibels (dBA). The higher the decibel, the more at risk you are for NIHL. Noises that are measured above 85dBA and above can cause permanent damage to your ears. 
  • Use hearing protection devices- Earplugs or earmuffs that reduce the level of sound that enters your ears can protect you from hazardous noises that cause damage to your ears. 
  • Move away from the source of loud noise or reduce the volume- You can actively limit your exposure to loud sounds by either removing yourself from the presence of loud noises or turning down the volume. 
  • Visit a hearing aid clinic near you- Get ahead of your hearing loss and seek assistance from the care team at Francis Audiology. Francis Audiology offers NHIL treatment in Pittsburgh, PA and other services in the Southwestern, PA region. Their various services all seek to achieve the same goal: restoring your hearing functionality. 

Looking for noise-induced hearing loss treatment in Pittsburgh, PA? Francis Audiology serves patients all over Southwestern, PA in the following locations: Cranberry, Pittsburgh, Sewickley, Mars, Gibsonia, Allison Park, McCandless, Ross Township, Zelienople, and Beaver. 


Dr. R. Patrick Francis and his hearing rehabilitation team have been providing care for patients struggling with issues such as hearing loss, tinnitus, and wax management for 20 years. With services ranging from hearing rehabilitation to hearing loss prevention, and hearing aid repair, Francis Audiology Associates are here to help educate, diagnose, and treat your hearing loss. Book an appointment online today or call (724)-441-8695 for more information.