It is usually felt that old persons will have some degree of hearing loss related to ageing which causes the partial destruction of the hair cells in the Cochlea which are responsible for hearing. However, a recent study by CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention) in the US found that upto 20 percent of Americans in their 20s have hearing loss, and that they may not even be aware of it.

Hearing loss can be due to  a variety of causes, and in this instance our attention has been brought to bear on exposure to daily noise that could be contributing to this hearing loss.

picture courtesy 'comeheargreenville.com'

It is well known in Hearing care workers that the loudness of the noise and the duration to which we are exposed are inversely related to each other as far as damage to hearing is concerned - the louder the noise, the less time it needs to damage hearing. 

For instance, if you are in the close vicinity of a spacecraft taking off, even a fraction of a second's exposure is enough to damage your hearing forever, but exposure to low intensity sounds takes a longer to create the same effect.

It has now been observed that daily exposure to toxic noise in the urban landscape can cause hearing loss.

These are commonly the sound of machinery - like the marble cutting machine that whines constantly throughout the day, loudspeakers blaring throughout the day, exposure to loud horn honking and persistent traffic noise, as well as the ubiquitous use of the ear plugs for listening to music.

In India it is also sen that serious viral diseases in childhood like Measles and Mumps can sometimes lead to a permanent hearing loss as a sequelae. That is why Vaccination against these diseases is strongly recommended. 

All of these have been known to cause hearing loss, and unfortunately most of us are not even aware of it.

Hearing loss of this nature is permanent - there is no cure for it. It can also be accompanied by debilitating noise inside the ear - called Tinnitus. So it is better for us to be careful in our daily lives to prevent this damage - 

- Avoid exposure to loud machinery sound.

- When in traffic - in the presence of car honking or loud siren sounds keep the car windows closed.

- Restrict the use of  I pod/ music device with ear phones to the minimum - and when you do, keep the volume low.

In the presence of constant loud noise, it makes sense for us to use noise cancelling devices and headphones.

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