Exposure to loud noise can damage the delicate hair cells that convert sound into signals sent to the brain. This loss is permanent. Our bodies cannot rejuvenate these hair cells and the result is hearing loss.
Typically, noise will mostly damage higher speech frequencies, which will affect the ability to hear clarity of speech and soft consonant sounds. The only way of improving this hearing loss is via digital hearing aids.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), more than one million people
are exposed to potentially damaging noise levels in their workplace. It was estimated in research by the Medical Research Council (MRC) in 1997-98 that a total of 509,000 people in Great Britain were suffering from some level of hearing difficulty as a result of exposure to noise at work.
April 2008 the music and entertainments industries were brought into line with the Control of Noise at Work regulations 2005. This has meant that people who work where live music is played or where recorded music is played, such as a restaurant, bar, public house or nightclub are all covered by the new legislation.
Musicians especially are being made aware of the potential damage their working environment may cause to their hearing. Many musicians are now having custom-made hearing protection equipment made to protect their hearing.
Hearing protection products range from custom-made earplugs with a sound filter to control the chosen level of attenuation, to in-ear-monitors which allow musicians to electronically regulate how they hear the music they are currently playing.
Musicians are not the only ones who are in danger of suffering noise-induced hearing loss. There are now custom made products to attenuate excessive wind-noise for motorcyclists and racing-drivers, and sonic valves to prevent sudden loud noises for those who shoot guns.
Also available to help protect one’s hearing, are custom-fit sleeves for iPod and other MP3 players available, which provide the wearer with a better seal in the ear and allows them to listen more comfortably to music without the need to raise the volume to dangerously loud levels. A rule of thumb is that under normal circumstances, if volume is raised loud enough to drown out background noise, then the chances are that it is too high.
For more information on how to protect your hearing please contact Leightons on 0800 40 20 20 and ask to see one of our qualified hearing aid audiologists.