Symptoms

The hair cells in the ear that detect higher-pitched sounds, like speech, are unfortunately the most vulnerable to sound. As a result, people with noise-induced hearing loss often have trouble hearing conversations in noisy places. There are different types of noise-induced hearing loss:

Long-term hearing loss

When we’re exposed to loud noise over a long period of time, we gradually start to lose our hearing. Over time, the sounds we hear may become distorted or muffled, and it may be difficult to understand other people when they talk. If you have noise injury you might not even be aware of it, but it can be detected with a hearing test.

Temporary hearing loss

Sometimes exposure to impulse or continuous loud noise causes a temporary hearing loss (also known as a temporary threshold shift, or TTS), which disappears 16 to 48 hours later. Recent research suggests, however, that although the loss of hearing seems to disappear, there may be residual long-term damage to your hearing.

Immediate (or sudden) hearing loss

Noise injury can also be caused by extremely loud bursts of sound, such as gunshots or explosions, which can rupture the eardrum or damage the bones in the middle ear. This kind of noise injury could result in immediate or sudden hearing loss that may be permanent.

Sudden hearing loss, or sudden deafness, as it’s also known, can also occur without noise injury. If you are experiencing this, seek immediate medical attention to determine the cause and find out about treatment options.