Our lives are constantly evolving with a steady stream of information and entertainment flowing-in through technological advancements. With various electronic devices constantly making their way into the markets, one cannot contain excitement and curiosity, hence, end up buying them. However, this excitement comes with a price to pay. The increase in Noise Induced Hearing Damage (NIHD) is something that all of us need to be aware about. Immersing oneself into the world of digital sound, it is important to understand the prospective risks to our auditory health and understand certain preventive measures which can protect our hearing.
While we are on a morning walk or enroute to the office, the first thing we do is plug into our earphones, earbuds or headphones and tune into our favourite podcast, radio channel or music and immerse ourselves into a different world. The piercing sound of emergency sirens and hustling city streets, our life is invaded with different sounds with different noise levels. Apart from these, iPod and portable music players add an extra decibel level, often leading to long exposure to varying decibel levels.
Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHD) is caused due to the disruption caused to the delicate hair cells present in the inner ear. The delicate hair cells are responsible for converting the sound vibrations into electrical signals so that the brain interprets it as sound. Prolonged exposure to high decibel levels like loud concerts, everyday environmental noise, and high-volume music causes NIHD. But the positive part is that this is preventable unlike other forms of hearing issues. By being aware and taking proper measures, one can prevent NIHD.
Symptoms of NIHD include Tinnitus (Ringing, buzzing or roaring sensation in the ears), The need to increase TV Volume, Difficulty in understanding speech in noisy environments, Muffled or distorted hearing sensation, if you experience any of these symptoms, they must immediately consult a doctor to diagnose the condition as the damage caused can either be temporary or permanent and can worsen with time.
There is no permanent cure for NIHD, but the silver lining is that cochlear implants and hearing aids can aid individuals with hearing loss to interact and communicate better with their environment. It is better advised to go on regular check-ups if you speculate hearing loss.
Prevention of NIHD:
NIHD can be prevented if one integrates certain effective methods or practices. The following methods can be incorporated to prevent NIHD:
- Take Time off: Give your ears a break for some time if you are using headphones for a longer duration.
- Routine Hearing Checkup: If you suspect hearing loss, timely interventions can help prevent it from worsening. Hence, schedule routine hearing checkups.
- Volume Control: Be responsible for your auditory health and take control of the decibel level on your gadgets. Apply the “60/60” rule while listening to your favourite podcast/radio/music. 60 percent of volume for 60 minutes and then break. This way you protect your hearing and prevent NIHD or any other hearing loss.
- Invest in Noise-cancelling Technology: Get yourself the trending noise cancelling earphones, earbuds, or headphones. These devices help block out the outer noise or ambient disturbances and allow you to enjoy your audio resource at safer decibel levels.
- Environmental Awareness: Be aware of your surroundings. Avoid increasing the volume in noisy environments. This leads to a tendency to increase the volume beyond safe levels.
Our hearing health must be protected at all costs in a world where digital innovation has dominated. Our general health, relationships, and quality of life can all be harmed by noise-induced hearing loss, which is an invisible danger. We can make sure we continue to enjoy the world of sound without compromising our hearing health by being aware of the risks connected with prolonged exposure to loud noise from digital gadgets and taking preventive steps. In order to live in harmony with technology, let’s exercise good judgment, value the noises around us, and make informed decisions.
Dr. Parth Hingol , Consultant – ENT Surgeon , HCG Hospitals, Rajkot