Why Hearing Loss Happens-Shared by Beltone, NE

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There are three types of hearing loss: conductive (CHL), sensorineural (SNHL), and mixed which includes both types.

CHL hearing loss is a mechanical problem: for some reason, your outer or middle ear isn't able to vibrate properly in response to sound waves. Causes include too much ear wax, fluid due to infection, a hole in the eardrum, and otosclerosis, which is an overgrowth of the bone in your middle ear.

SNHL is the most common type of hearing loss and is caused by noise exposure, medications and age, to name a few. "Though hearing loss is often attributed to natural aging, in fact, hearing loss may be congenital (inherited) or exacerbated by excessive noise," says Leigh Ann Watts, Au.D., CCC-A, an audiologist at Beneficial Hearing Aid Center who treated Koele. "Noise is all around us, every day, from television to lawn mowers to household appliances. It's unavoidable, yet can be harmful in excess."

What Counts as Excessive Noise?

Frightening fact: Hearing loss can occur after a one-time noise exposure at 120 decibels, such as gunfire, or continuous noise exposure to dangerous levels of 85 decibels or above over a prolonged period of time. It's important to know what levels are safe in order to protect your hearing:

110-140 decibels:

  • Rock concert or jet engine
  • Firecracker
  • Nail gun
  • Ambulance siren
  • Chainsaw
  • Home stereo speakers at maximum volume

* Just 1 minute of exposure to noises at this level can result in permanent hearing loss, according to the National Institutes of Health.

85-100 decibels:

  • Garbage truck
  • Power mower
  • Motorcycle
  • Snowmobile
  • Jackhammer

* Continual exposure to noises in this range can cause permanent hearing loss.

Audiology experts at Beltone suggest not exposing yourself to sound that registers above 75 decibels. To find out how you can improve your hearing, click here.