Acoustic Trauma

What is acoustic trauma?

Acoustic trauma is damage to the inner hearing organ as a result of overexposure to sounds of very high frequencies. These frequencies are beyond human hearing range. Persistent exposure to sounds of high frequencies can induce damage to the ears. Another thing that can damage the inner ears is brain injuries that cause trauma to the brain. This will be severe if it results in the bursting of the eardrum. The eardrum is responsible for the transmission of sound frequencies and vibrations from the outer ear to the inner ears. It also safeguards the inner ears.

When acoustic trauma occurs, the function of this eardrum and the inner ear particularly the cochlea will be altered. A threshold shift can surface and this in itself can precipitate into a hearing loss.

 

Acoustic trauma

Photo Credit: ADAM

 

Types of acoustic trauma

Since either overexposure to high-frequency sounds or brain injuries can cause an acoustic trauma, your doctor will first have to settle this. Afterward, he can then proceed to adopt a treatment option that suits the cause of the trauma. But most cases of acoustic trauma cannot be cured; they can only be managed because hearing loss is mostly irreversible.

 

Who is at high risk of acoustic trauma?

Sound frequencies above 85 decibels are not suited for the human ears. It, therefore, means overexposure to sound range greater than this will predispose to having an acoustic trauma.

People at an increased risk for acoustic trauma include;

Those whose job is situated where the operation of loud industrial equipment is always ongoing

If you work or live where high-frequency sounds ‘live’ and hardly go on ‘vacation’

If you are a lover and frequent guest at events where high-frequencies sounds are played

If you use gun ranges that are very high

If you always encounter very loud sounds that lack appropriate soundproof proper equipment

Your doctor will help you know what should be your normal daily exposure limit by carrying out a few assessments on you.

 

Symptoms of acoustic trauma

The hallmark of acoustic trauma is hearing loss.

In many instances, people report having difficulty in hearing sounds of high-frequencies. This later progress to challenges in hearing low-frequency sounds.

The degree of the trauma to ears can later be assessed by your doctor by exposing you to sounds of varying frequencies.

Tinnitus is a great indicator that you might be having an acoustic trauma. In fact, its presence is an indirect announcement of the development of acoustic trauma if it refuses to go away for a very long time. In tinnitus, you will be hearing a buzzing (ringing) sound in your ears. You will likely be aware of this sound when you are in a silent place especially if it is the mild form of tinnitus. Changes in the blood vessels, drugs, and some other factors can induce tinnitus.

 

Diagnosis of acoustic trauma

As part of the diagnosis, you will be asked by your doctor the kind of noises you have, at different times of your life, been exposed to. He can then use a device called an audiometry to diagnose acoustic trauma. What he will be doing during this test will be to expose you to different sound frequencies and tones. As he is doing this, he will be asking you questions to find out whatever you could hear well or not.

 

Treatment for acoustic trauma

  1. Hearing devices

Hearing loss is a disorder that can only be managed. It cannot be cured. Your doctor, depending on the extent of the loss, may ask that you begin using a hearing device such as a hearing aid. A cochlear implant is another surgical procedure that can be used to treat your hearing loss.

You need to discuss the options with your doctor. He is in a better position to give you recommendations.

  1. Protect your ears

There are different devices that have been developed to help people with hearing challenges. Earplug is one of them. Your doctor will likely recommend this to you. If you are working in a place where there is a very high rate of noise pollution, you might have to speak to your employer to provide personal protective equipment for you; it usually comes with earplugs.

 

Medications

It depends on the degree of trauma to your ears. While oral steroids can be quite useful in some instances, protection of your ears from further damages might be emphasized by your doctor.

 

Outlook

When you think of an irreversible health condition, think of an acoustic trauma and every related hearing loss! So how do you escape being a victim? Protect your ears always from an unreasonably loud sound. But if you already have been affected, you might have to consider learning sign language. Your doctor will give you more insight into this.

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