Importance of Protecting Your Hearing
While there is little you can do to prevent the progression of hearing loss from the normative aging process, you can prevent noise-induced hearing loss by limiting noise exposure and protecting your hearing in noisy environments.
The average person is born with about 16,000 hair cells within their cochlea (inner ear). These cells allow your brain to detect sounds. One single exposure to very loud noises such as explosions or gunshots can cause noise-induced hearing loss by destroying these hair cells. In addition, repeated exposures to loud noises over 85 decibels, such as drills and loud music, will also eventually destroy many hair cells. Up to 30% to 50% of hair cells can be damaged or destroyed before changes in your hearing can be measured by a hearing test. By the time you notice hearing loss, many hair cells have been destroyed and cannot be repaired. This can gradually reduce your ability to understand speech in noisy environments. Eventually, if hearing loss continues, it can become hard to understand speech even in quieter places.