Your hearing is a valuable thing, and should be protected. Once it goes, there’s no way to restore it – at least, not completely. Certain kinds of professional should be especially concerned with the prospect of hearing loss, as they’re regularly exposed to the kinds of high-noise environments which, endured in the long run, will inevitably cause hearing loss.
Let’s start with a definition. Noise-induced hearing loss is any hearing loss which occurs as a result of exposure to loud noises. It’s different to the kind of hearing loss that occurs naturally as we get into old age: if you’re regularly forced into situations with loud noise, then your hearing might deteriorate rapidly, even early on in life.
On the other hand, you might find yourself exposed to a single extremely loud sound, which can cause acute and irreparable hearing loss. You might think of a firearm discharging. This, by the way, is a good reason to wear hearing protection at a firing range.
If you suspect you’ve suffered hearing loss, then the good news is that hearing tests are more available than ever. But you might also take steps to reduce the impact, most notably through earplugs.
A rock gig can regularly get to extreme volumes, especially if the monitoring situation on stage is less than ideal. But even if you’re not playing amplified music, then you run the risk of hearing loss. A member of an orchestra might conceivably practice for six hours a day, on top of performances. If you’re unlucky enough to find yourself at the front of the brass section, then this might be a severe problem.
If you’re working in a club most nights a week, then you’ll inevitably suffer hearing loss. If you have to lean over the bar to take orders from customers who are literally shouting into your ear, then you’re in trouble.
If you’re using power tools, like table-saws and hand-drills, then the sound of the motor can inflict considerable damage on your ears. We should also consider the constant hum of the air-filtration system in a workshop.
Construction sites are filled with noise-creating pieces of equipment, like pneumatic drills. If you’re working on a site, even if you’re not directly involved with the source of the noise, then you should take hearing protection seriously.
This one might come as a little bit of a surprise: since a dentist’s drill resonates at a frequency that’s important for human hearing, it can inflict a particularly damaging loss of treble perception. This might lead to you being able to hear sharp consonants like ‘t’s and ‘f’s.