All About Noise Induced Hearing Loss

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By Dr. Varun Kumar GuptaEar-Nose-Throat (ENT)

The human ear is capable of hearing sounds between a fixed decibel range. Sounds, lesser than 20Hz and more than 20kHz, are usually inaudible to the human ear owing to its mechanism. Noise induced hearing loss or NIHL is a rather common type of deafness caused by a single exposure to loud noise or by being repeatedly exposed to it.

What is NIHL?

Sounds, at or above 85 decibels, are instrumental in causing NIHL according to research. A blast, using earphones or headphones on a loud volume, attending loud concerts, etc. put individuals at a higher risk of NIHL.

The symptoms of NIHL include:

  1. On regular exposure to noise above 85 decibels, the sounds become distorted over a period of time.
  2. One-time exposure to a blast may rupture the ear drum and cause a sudden hearing impairment.
  3. Tinnitus, caused by exposure to loud noises, might be a symptom of NIHL. It is characterized by a constant sensation of ringing or a roaring noise in the ear.


Exposure to noise levels above 85 decibels plays an instrumental role:

  1. Working in loud and noisy conditions.
  2. Exposure to industrial noise without the precautions of ear muffs.
  3. Loud headphones.
  4. Riding loud vehicles.
  5. Attending loud music concerts.
  6. Gunshots.


Although there is no actual treatment for NIHL, the individual diagnosed with this condition is advised to avoid being exposed to loud noises in order to prevent further hearing loss.

To avoid NIHL:

  1. Use noise cancelling headphones.
  2. Move away from the source of hazardous sounds.
  3. Take precautions to avoid sounds over 85 decibels