If you’ve been around loud machinery or loud noises long enough without proper hearing protection, you may end up with serious issues pertaining to your hearing. The most common you’ll encounter is what’s called tinnitus. This is when it sounds as if you have ringing in either one or both of your ears. It’s completely manageable to live with as long as you understand what’s going on. Unfortunately, once your hearing is damage, it’s not like a cut that will scab itself up and heal on on its own. Once damage has set it, there is no going back. First, let’s figure out why the ringing even occurs as well as ways you can prevent it.
Why the Ring?
To start off, let’s all get on the same page with the overall layout of the human ear. There are three major areas of your ear. They are the outer, middle and inner. Obviously the more you get to the inner part of the ear, the more important and fragile certain parts become. One part specifically that’s extremely fragile to loud noises is the inner ear. Inside of this are tiny, microscopic hairs called stereocilia. These function so as to pick up tiny vibrations, thereby interpreting sound for you. Whether from loud machinery daily or a single loud and explosive sound, these hairs could get damaged. They are non-regenerative, so once that damage occurs there’s no way to get them back. If and when the damage does occur the stereocilia is unable to interpret the soundwaves properly, therefore leading to the infamous ringing. The random and nonuniform movement of these hairs sends incorrect electrical signals to your brain, therefore you interpreting them as a ring, buzz or click. These annoying sounds can happen consistently or randomly depending on the serveighty of the condition.
Tinnitus can occur in one or both ears as as well there being two different kind of tinnitus. One is called subjective, which means only you can hear it. The other is objective where the physician examining you ends up hearing it. Either can be caused by nerve, blood vessel, or bone damage in the ears. Many use sound machines in order to have background noise when they sleep. If it is completely silent, the tinnitus is magnified and causes some fairly sleepless nights.
Proactive not Reactive
Your hearing is something that many take for granted, but once lost many would give anything to get it back. Think about doing things in the here and now, in order to make a lasting impression on the future. If people didn’t have to wear hearing aids, they wouldn’t. The fact of the matter is whether your hearing dissipates over time due to age or from working in loud environments, you need to be on the offense not playing defense. There are ways in the modern age to integrate sound suppressing equipment in your day to day life. What it comes down to is, aesthetics or function? Would you rather not look “cool” on the job site by wearing hearing protection or risk the aforementioned issues by not wearing anything at all. The choice is yours, but understand the risks involved. Tinnitus is a medical issue that you can still live a full functioning life with, it just may become annoying at times. Military service members for one, are extremely prone to tinnitus due to the large machinery and gunfire they are around on a daily basis. Many either have it constantly or for it to come on randomly. Either way, regardless of the working conditions or severity involved, go get checked by an audiologist in order to keep your hearing in check.