Noise Pollution Keeps Ear Specialists Busy. 2019-06-06
In addition to the infections and anatomical anomalies that often require the specialised intervention of an ENT surgeon, the human ear attracts the attention of other specialists for whom the primary focus is on its sensory efficiency, rather than its physical condition. That primary function is to provide a conduit for the conduction of external sounds to the sensory cells within the cochlea, which is responsible for converting them into the nerve impulses which, in turn, can be processed and interpreted by the auditory cortices in the brain.
When infections or a build-up of earwax occurs, the hearing may become muffled. Likewise, a similar effect can occur when exposed to a sudden loud noise, such as a gunshot, and will often be accompanied by the ringing sensation known as tinnitus. Treatment of the former conditions by a GP should reverse the symptoms, while the latter will normally clear up spontaneously within a day or two. However, the attention of ear specialists will invariably be necessary to investigate the non-reversible hearing loss that can be caused by the primary failure of the organ’s conductive pathway or its sensory mechanism.
In such cases, the healthcare professional in question is the audiologist. While not a medical doctor, he or she will hold an appropriate degree and have the specialised knowledge and experience needed to identify the nature and extent of a patient’s hearing loss, and to perform the necessary interventions that enable that patient to manage his or her condition effectively. When applied in time, the services of these ear specialists can often result in life-changing benefits for their hard-of-hearing patients.
Today, the most common cause of hearing loss is repeated exposure to excessively loud noise. Known as NIHL (noise-induced hearing loss), it is also the most common source of compensation claims for industrial injuries. No longer confined to the workplace, city dwellers are exposed to the risk of NIHL simply when driving in heavy traffic or surrounded by construction work, as is anyone living near a busy airport. More serious, however, is the danger posed by loud music, especially when listening with tight-fitting earbuds.
As a consequence, It is no longer the aged who are now keeping the nation’s audiologists busy. More common on the appointment lists of these ear specialists are those in their twenties, teenagers, and even pre-teens, all of whom are spending hours connected to their iPods and similar mobile devices. It takes just eight hours of exposure to 85 decibels to cause irreversible hearing loss. Given that the decibel scale is logarithmic and that rock bands routinely generate around 110 dB, many of those young people may soon need to exchange their iPods for hearing aids.