Acoustic trauma involves injury to the inner ear often due to exposure to a high-decibel noise. The damage can arise after being exposed to a sole, loud noise or from exposure to noises at a lower level of decibel over a long period of time. Oftentimes, head injuries can lead to acoustic trauma especially in cases where the eardrum is ruptured or if other injuries occur to the inner ear.
It is important to note that the eardrum protects the middle and inner ear. It also sends out signals to the brain via small vibrations. Acoustic trauma can disrupt the way these vibrations are handled, leading to hearing loss.
Who are at high risk?
Individuals who face a higher risk for acoustic trauma include:
- Operating loud industrial equipment for long periods of time
- Living or working in an area where high-decibel sounds continue for long hours
- Those who use gun ranges
- Frequently attending musical concerts and other events involving high-decibel music
- Being exposed to excessively loud sounds without correct gear such as earplugs
Those who are continuously exposed to noise levels over 85 decibels are at high risk for acoustic trauma.
Indications of acoustic trauma
The characteristic symptom of acoustic trauma is hearing loss. In most instances, the individual starts having difficulty hearing high-frequency sounds. After some time, difficulty hearing sounds at lower frequencies occurs.
One of the vital symptoms that can indicate the start of acoustic trauma is tinnitus. This is a form of damage to the ear that results to a ringing or buzzing sound. Those who have a mild to moderate case are often conscious of this symptom when in a silent environment.
The doctor might suggest using earplugs and other forms of devices to protect hearing. These items are part of the personal protective equipment that employers provide in a workplace that has constantly loud noises.
Technological hearing assistance
Hearing loss can be managed but could not be cured. The doctor might recommend technological assistance for the hearing loss such as a hearing aid. The latest types of hearing aids such as cochlear implants might be used to deal with hearing loss from acoustic trauma.
Oral steroid medications might be prescribed by the doctor in some cases of acoustic trauma. Nevertheless, if hearing loss is present, the doctor will emphasize the importance of ear protection to prevent the issue from worsening.