There are many ways that hearing loss can occur, from health issues like lasting infections or even a singular exposure to loud noise. You may not even know the following situations can be causes of hearing loss:
1. You stood too close to speakers at a concert.
Many people think that one exposure to loud noise isn't an issue because hearing loss only occurs over time. Newsflash: that's not true. Just one instance of a high-volume sound can cause permanent damage to your inner ear, rendering you with some degree of hearing loss. That time you attended the KISS concert and couldn't hear much the next day? You likely hurt your ears for the rest of your life. The volume at a rock concert can easily exceed 120 dBs and it only takes 9 seconds of exposure to cause damage. I don't know of a single song shorter than that. Next time, wear hearing protection and opt to stand away from the speakers. You can still hear the music (and see Gene Simmons' tongue) but without the increased risk of damaging your ears. Look up Grimes (only 24-years-old), Barbara Streisand, Pete Townshend, John Illsley, Phil Collins, Ozzy Osborn and others share their cautionary tales. The list goes on and on...
2. You went skydiving and heard a high-pitch tone.
When you go from one elevation to the next, your ears need time to adjust. This is why you may hear or feel a pop as you drive over mountains or take off in an airplane. Skydiving also takes you to high altitudes, then quickly drops participants to the ground in a matter of minutes". Even during 60 seconds of free falling, your ears are hurrying to adjust in order to steady your balance and help you hear. If you took the plunge and found that one or both of your ears registered a high-pitched noise, it's possible you damaged your inner ear and will experience hearing loss. Consider this before jumping the first time, and consult a hearing loss specialist or an audiologist after you jump to learn if you need hearing aids to compensate for the damage. Jim Crouch, Director of Safety and Training for the United States Parachute Association cautions that parachutists should wear ear plugs and even helmets when jumping in order to prevent hearing loss.
Always ascend and descend slowly when scuba diving. Employ the Valsalva maneuver and allow your ears and body time to adjust, thereby avoiding hearing loss and the bends.
3. You felt pain while SCUBA diving.
Almost 75% of the earth is covered by water and there are some spectacularly beautful things to see there. As a bonus, when underwater with all your gear on, you get to feel a little like an astronaut. However SCUBA diving does carry risk when you decide not to respect the basic do's and don'ts and the laws of physics. Similar to the way your ears adjust as you ascend during a flight, going underwater also requires some inner-ear adjustment. Have you ever heard the term "the bends?" This refers to decompression sickness, which happens when divers make their way up from depth too quickly. Your ears are also affected by the major changes in pressure: 32 pounds per square inch at 33 feet, 64 psi at 66 and so on - no wonder your ears hurt at the deep end of the pool! Always ascend and descend slowly in order to allow your body time to adjust and prevent unnecessary hearing loss. The most important thing is to restore a normal breathing rhythm if you start to feel woozy underwater - consult your scuba instructor to learn the signs and symptoms of this condition.
4. You tried to tough out & ignore tinnitus.
That high-pitched ringing, whooshing or buzzing tone in your ears is not to be ignored. It may be tinnitus, a condition that is uncomfortable on a good day and distracting and painful on the bad ones, and is usually a looming symptom and red flag that you have further hearing issues. See a hearing health specialist or an audiologist if the noise persists for longer than two hours. The practitioner can establish what level of hearing loss has occurred and offer some relief from the annoying screeching noise.
If you are concerned about hearing loss, for yourself or someone important to you, the audiologists and hearing health care professionals at AccuQuest can help. The good news it that for the most common forms of hearing loss, hearing aids can help. Contact your local AccuQuest Hearing Center to schedule a hearing test and consultation.
If you want to learn more about how your hearing works, hearing loss and hearing aids, how hearing aids work or why it is a good idea to see an audiologist or hearing health care professional, click here to view and download your own copy of AccuQuest's Journey to Better Hearing.