Summer is the time of year that we celebrate holidays that honor our soldiers and the bravery they have shown fighting in the wars that ensure our American freedoms. We often revel in stunning fireworks displays to commemorate these holidays. Sadly, many men and women suffer from hearing loss as a result of their proximity to gunfire and explosives during military service, and people often lose hearing from the noise that fireworks produce. This type of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) happens due to damage to the cochlea that can occur from either a one-time exposure to extreme noise or repeated exposure over some time. It is the same type of hearing problem that individuals who have been exposed to loudspeakers at music venues and nightclubs may experience.
Why Do Loud Sounds Affect Hearing?
Typically, the cochlea in the human ear has thousands of cells called hair cells that work with the brain to detect sounds. These hair cells bend when a person is exposed to loud noises like fireworks and gunfire, which causes noticeable hearing loss and ringing in the ears. This hearing loss will often return after a few hours or several days, as the hair cells straighten back out. Unfortunately, as more hair cells are damaged, some of them begin to die, which can result in permanent NIHL.
How Can a Patient Regain Hearing After NIHL?
The best way to avoid NIHL is to avoid exposure to loud sounds, but there is research being conducted on treatment for this affliction. Researchers are studying genes that aid in hair cell function and development in their search for a cure for NIHL. Other promising research involves the supporting cells in the inner ear that can lessen the damage to hair cells when people are exposed to gunshots, fireworks, and similar loud noises.
If you have been affected by noise-induced hearing loss, Bay Area Audiology may be able to help treat your hearing problems. Call us today at (281) 332-4575 to schedule an appointment and get on the road to better hearing.