An Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) expert and Head and Neck surgeon with the Federal Medical Center, Abuja, Dr. Oyeyipo Yemisi, has said that generally, noise affects the ear and it results in what is called noise-induced hearing loss.
The consultant ENT told LEADERSHIP that noise-induced hearing loss results from exposure to loud noise.
She said “We can have just noise induced hearing loss which actually ranges from just having noise in the ear. It starts actually with people feeling noise in their ears, that is usually like the warning sign that you are about to lose your hearing from this noise. Some people just have hearing loss immediately and for some other people, it is due to what we call acoustic trauma which occurs when a person hears a loud noise that suddenly knocks off the person’s hearing. So the louder the noise, the more dangerous it is to the ear and noise of about 85 decibel is usually considered very loud and it is very dangerous to the ear.”
On sources of noise, she said it could either be from recreational activities or from occupational activities.
“Recreational activities: people who go to the nightclub, and the use of personal music devices like people who use iPod, earpiece, Bluetooth, all these things that people put over their ears, they generate noise and the noise go directly into the ear and exposure to this noise over time affects the ear and it causes either noise in the ear or hearing loss.
However, she said each person’s threshold differs. “Some persons can use these things for some time without any issues, but some other persons can use it for just a few days and they will develop hearing loss. So the individual threshold varies but what we are sure of is that these things affect the ear negatively.”
On occupational sources of noise, she said people who work in places where a lot of noise is being generated, especially people like soldiers and policemen who are exposed to gun shot and then maybe people who work with heavy machines that generate a lot of noise.
Also, she said people who work in telecommunication or call centres, who have to put headphones in their ear and all of that. “This is actually dangerous and a lot of them have reported noise in their ears since they started working in the company.
Oyeyipo also said that even generators that we use everyday generate a lot of noise that can affect hearing. “If you go to a market where everybody uses a generator, the generator is so loud that if you just simply pass through there for a few minutes, you can hear your ear still making that noise, sometimes it’s like your ear gets blocked for a while and then later it opens up again. These are actually warning signs that you have exposed your ear to very loud sound that can damage your ear and the earlier you remove yourself from there, the better,” she said.
On how to prevent hearing loss from exposure to noise, the expert said “Don’t put our phone on speaker and put it on your ear. Even if you must use some of these things, you use the ones that have noise cancelling features. Don’t increase your phone volume above 50 per cent of the maximum volume and it should not be for long hours. Then generators should not be kept close to the house, avoiding noisy places generally. If you must be in a noisy place, you can protect your ear by wearing ear plugs or ear muffs, don’t increase your phone volume above 50 per cent of the total volume.”