Noise Induced Deafness

We are exposed to noise every day. This can be from radio, the traffic and television. Normally, we hear these sounds at safe levels and it does not affect our hearing.

However when we are exposed to harmful noise (very loud noise) for prolonged duration, the sensory nerve cells in our ears can be affected. Over a period of time this excessive exposure can cause damage to the nerve cells resulting in hearing loss. This is termed Noise Induced Deafness. This is irreversible and progresses with each exposure.

Noise induced deafness is generally found in workers of heavy industries such as construction, shipping, printing presses and piling works.

In the past 2 decades, there is an explosion of hearing impairment amongst our young adults. Globally, it has been estimated that 30% of young adults each has hearing impairment from noise exposure. This is primarily due to the use of portable media players over this time. In a recent survey done at the National University of Singapore, more than 90% of students have your own personal media player. Prolonged listening to loud music, can lead noise induced deafness.

It is generally recognised, that noise exposure in excess of 85 dB for more than 8 hours a day will cause hearing damage. So it is important that are individuals who worked in a noisy environment undergo regular hearing assessment and to wear appropriate protective devices in your work. For those that use portable media players, it is also important for them to be aware of this danger and to reduce the intensity of the music that they listen to. Education is of primary importance in preventing long-term hearing impairment. This should be incorporated in health education or in the science syllabus in our schools.

To get an accurate assessment of your hearing problems, consult the Singapore ENT Specialist Dr. YT Pang at the Centre for Ear Nose Throat Allergy & Snoring (CENTAS).