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When Noise Hurts
Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) is irreversible hearing damage resulting from exposure to high levels of noise. NIHL affects an estimated 10 to 15 million people in the USA, making excessive noise exposure the most common cause of hearing loss.
What causes NIHL? Exposure to traumatic noise will cause permanent damage to the sensitive hair cells of the inner ear and possibly the hearing nerve.
NIHL is related to both noise intensity and the duration of exposure. Louder sounds require shorter exposures before damage occurs. Why? Because a 10 dB increase in sound level causes a 10 fold increase in sound intensity.
This means that the sound of an MP3 player set at a volume of 115 dB is about 1000 times more intense than a vacuum cleaner sound volume of 85 dB, and a Rock concert can produce sounds (120 dB) that are 100 times more intense than a lawnmower (100 dB)!
NIHL is Permanent. It can be treated to some extent (depending on the damage), but it can’t be reversed!