Noise, defined as unwanted or undesirable sound, is part of everyday life. Exposure to excess noise can cause hearing loss, depending on the intensity and duration of the exposure. While there are other causes of hearing loss, such as aging and certain medical conditions, noise is an important cause of hearing loss. When excess noise is determined to be the cause of hearing loss, it is called noise induced hearing loss.

Noise induced hearing loss may occur because of noise exposure at the workplace or outside the workplace. But this type of hearing loss frequently occurs because of excess noise in the workplace. There are many industries in which noise levels exceed the federal government's exposure guidelines. Excessive noise exposures can cause a reversible decrease in hearing sensitivity that may last for several hours or longer. But these exposures may also cause an irreversible decrease in hearing sensitivity. Noise exposure, along with certain chemical exposures at the workplace can have effects on hearing loss.

Many people with noise induced hearing loss complain of gradual deterioration in hearing. A common complaint is difficulty in comprehending speech, especially if there is completing background noise. Noise induced hearing loss is also frequently accompanied by tinnitus (a ringing sound in the ear).

A through evaluation by a doctor trained to recognize signs of hearing loss can help determine what effect noise exposure may have had on your hearing. A physician can also advise you on ways to decrease your risk of hearing loss, answer other questions you may have and refer you for additional testing when necessary.

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