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The effects of noise can be simplified into three general categories:
In some cases, the effects of hearing loss may be classified by cause.
The primary effects of excessive noise exposure may include:
- Acoustic trauma refers to a temporary or permanent hearing loss due to a sudden, intense acoustic or noise
event, such as an explosion.
- Tinnitus describes the condition of "ringing in the ears."
- Individuals often describe the sound as a hum, buzz, roar, ring, or whistle.
- The inner ear or neural system produces the actual sound.
- The predominant cause of tinnitus is long-term exposure to high sound levels, though it can also be caused by short-term exposure to very high sound levels, such as gunshots. Non-acoustic events, such as a blow to the head, dietary issues, stress, jaw joint disorders, debris on the eardrum, or prolonged use of aspirin may also cause tinnitus.
- Many people experience tinnitus during their lives. Most of the time the sensation is only temporary, however, it can be permanent and debilitating.
- Diagnosis and treatment of tinnitus can be difficult because it is a subjective measurement.
- A noise-induced temporary threshold shift (NITTS) is a temporary loss in hearing sensitivity. NITTS may be the result of:
With NITTS, hearing sensitivity will return to the pre-exposed level in a matter of hours or days, assuming that there is not continued exposure to excessive noise.
- The acoustic reflex of the stapedial muscle.
- Short-term exposure to noise.
- Fatigue of the inner ear.
- A noise-induced permanent threshold shift (NIPTS) is a permanent loss in hearing sensitivity due to the destruction of sensory cells in the inner ear. This damage can be caused by:
- Long-term exposure to noise.
- Acoustic trauma.
Effects on Communication and Performance
The effects of excessive noise exposure on communication and performance may include:
- Difficulty understanding speech.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Reduced efficiency.
- Low morale.
- Adverse social behavior.
Other effects of excessive noise exposure may include:
- Quickened pulse rate; increased blood pressure; and narrowing of the body's blood vessels as a result of noise may, over a long period of time, place an added burden on the heart.
- Abnormal secretion of hormones.
- Muscle tension.
- Loss of sleep.
- Stress reactions.
Classified By Cause
Hearing loss may also be categorized in terms of possible cause:
- Presbycusis: Loss caused by the aging process.
- Noise-induced hearing loss.
- Industrial hearing loss: Loss caused by work-related noise exposure.
- Sociacusis: Loss attributed to the noises of everyday life.
- Nosoacusis: Loss attributable to health deficiencies and diseases, including:
- Hereditary progressive deafness.
- Meniere's disease.
- Ototoxic drugs and chemicals.
- Trauma from blows to the head.