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Noise and Hearing Conservation
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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.

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Primary Effects
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:
    • The acoustic reflex of the stapedial muscle.
    • Short-term exposure to noise.
    • Fatigue of the inner ear.
    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.
     
  • 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.
Additional References


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Effects on Communication and Performance
The effects of excessive noise exposure on communication and performance may include:
  • Difficulty understanding speech.
  • Annoyance.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Reduced efficiency.
  • Low morale.
  • Adverse social behavior.


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Other Effects
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.
  • Ulcers.
  • Loss of sleep.
  • Fatigue.
  • Stress reactions.


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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.
    • Mumps.
    • Rubella.
    • Meniere's disease.
    • Ototoxic drugs and chemicals.
    • Barotrauma.
    • Trauma from blows to the head.

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