Noise Pollution and Hearing Loss

Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Noise Induced Hearing Loss is a permanent hearing impairment that occurs as a result of:

  • Chronic exposure to high levels of noise
  • Sudden exposure to high levels of noise

Determining Factors of NIHL

There are certain parameters that can help determine if someone (or how someone) is likely to receive or have NIHL:

  • The noise intensity (higher sound pressure levels leads to a higher risk of NIHL)
  • The length of exposure 
  • The impulsiveness of the noise (more impulsive/sudden noise is more harmful)
  •  A person’s general risk or susceptibility to NIHL (in terms of their other health conditions)

Sources of NIHL

NIHL can be caused by personally chosen noise like listening to your own music too loudly, but this list is only of noise pollution sources.

  • Jobs with high risk of noise (i.e. mining, construction, real estate, manufacturing, etc.)
  • Road traffic and air traffic
  • Construction sites

Who’s at Risk?

Anyone can get NIHL if the determining factors are strong enough, but there are groups that are at more risk than others:

  • Age: higher risk in adults (20-60 years) than children (6-19 years)
  • Race: people of color a higher risk
  • Class: low-income people at higher risk

Symptoms of NIHL

NIHL has many effects, some of the most common being:

  • Difficulty with communication
  • Ear pain or ringing
  • Learning difficulties
  • Increased risk during emergencies (i.e. not hearing warning signals)

How to Prevent NIHL

Ideally, the best solution to NIHL would be to get rid of noise pollution, but that is not an option for everyone, so here are a few other tips:

  • Identify and move from the noise sources
  • Limit your exposure and find noise havens
  • Use ear plugs or other hearing protection
  • Go to an audiologist for a hearing evaluation



Journal of Otolaryngology: