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Author: admin, 01.10.2014. Category: Ring In The Ears

Severe head trauma can dislocate middle-ear bones or cause nerve damage, causing permanent hearing loss. Noncancerous growths, including osteomas, exostoses, and benign polyps, can block the ear canal, causing hearing loss.
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As the range of pressures which the ear can detect is so extensive, for simplification purposes this is normally compressed into a logarithmic scale in decibels. In physiological terms, the ear comprises the outer ear, which amplifies the sound as it enters the auditory canal to the middle ear. These bones are connected muscularly, and it is this which can allow them to contract in certain cases for loud sounds. The middle ear is connected via the Eustachian tube to the mouth, so that the pressure does not equalise.
The inner ear is liquid filled, and contains the semi-circular canals associated with balance and the cochlea. The outer hair cells are thought to be important in analysing the direction of the noise source2.
Hearing loss as a result of age is known as presbycusis, characterised by loss of sensitivity to high frequency sound and is more pronounced in men than women. If the noise exposure is sustained and continues before recovery occurs, a permanent noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) can occur.
In terms of setting hearing damage risk criteria, it is impossible to protect every person against any change in the hearing threshold across the entire frequency range, and therefore a compromise is normally required. Data shows that permanent threshold shift is related to the level and duration of noise, but there is no information regarding the effects of variable noise level during exposure. An exposure of 80 dBA constitutes a negligible risk for speech, therefore the aim is for 80 dBA or less in any plant design. Most countries recommend 85 dBA for eight hour exposure, although 80 dBA is better for minimising hearing damage. At the lower action level hearing protection must be made available and training on how to use it given, along with audiometric testing. In terms of addressing the issue of noise control and potential hearing risk, initially a noise survey should be conducted at the place of work. Once the noise levels have been established around the factory, comparison with the noise criteria will set the levels where workers are exposed to high noise levels and the quantity of noise reduction required.
Once the best noise control method has been established, it may be necessary that workers use hearing protection. Also, their performance can be affected by wearing glasses or safety glasses, hair and jewellery. With all hearing protection, the workers need to be trained in their effective use, as their performance is critical to the protection being used correctly. Once the noise survey has been conducted, and a hearing risk established, a hearing conservation programme should be undertaken which is an ongoing process. In conclusion, this article has described the physiological properties of hearing and how this relates to potential hearing impairment.
In terms of future improvements in the assessment of potential hearing damage, the current emphasis is on how hearing damage can occur in the working environment.
Hopefully, in future the assessment of a person’s total noise exposure will also include the contribution from leisure activities. There is a real risk that the current hearing damage may only be scientifically measured, say, in 25 years’ time.
Maureen Marsden is a Member of the Institute of Acoustics with 15 years of experience in acoustics, including building and environmental acoustics.
Sudden changes in pressure -- from flying or scuba diving -- can lead to damage to the eardrum, middle ear, or inner ear and hearing loss. This causes the eardrum and tiny bones, called the hammer and anvil, in the middle ear to vibrate. Ear infections can cause the middle ear to fill with fluid and cause hearing loss that usually clears when the infection and fluid are gone. It can detect a huge range of sound pressures from a minimum of 0.000002 Pascals to 200 Pascals.

In terms of hearing damage, the outer hair cells tend to be most prone to damage as a result of exposure to excessive noise. When these are damaged this function seems to be impaired, meaning that it is more difficult to tune into a particular voice within a noisy environment, which is one of the first signs of hearing loss. Exposure to a high noise level can result in a temporary loss of hearing sensitivity, often combined with a ringing in the ears. Hearing loss due to noise exposure normally starts at high frequencies, typically around 4kHz to 6kHz.
The aim is normally to protect most individuals in an exposed group of employees against loss of hearing for everyday speech.
Above this there is a compromise between the cost of noise control, the risk of hearing damage and compensation claims. Regulations in some countries lag the standards and there are not many instances where the maximum level of 85 dBA is enforced. An acoustic consultant can assist in the specification for the design of this quiet space, although there are off the shelf cubicles supplied by manufacturers. The selection of the type of hearing protection depends on a number of issues, such as the amount of attenuation required, as well as comfort.
In addition, headphones are available attached to hard hats, where these are required for safety reasons. Often hearing protection needs to be such that it permits basic speech communication, to allow the worker to function within the work environment, while blocking much of the external noise. With increasing leisure time, however, people’s exposure to noise associated with leisure activities is increasing. Much of the problem is that the current noise exposure levels are as a result of research on people who have already suffered hearing impairment, so there is a delay between the occurrence of the hearing damage and the incorporation into legislation. In the meantime, it is hoped at least that as part of the education process of people potentially exposed to workplace noise, they are also informed about the potential contribution of leisure noise on hearing damage. At the time of writing Maureen Marsden was a senior acoustic engineer with Mott MacDonald in Southampton, England. Then vibrations travel to the fluid in the cochlea where microscopic hairs send nerve signals to the brain so sound is understood. Acoustic neuroma (an inner ear tumor shown here), grows on the hearing and balance nerve in the inner ear. Though congenital hearing loss often runs in families, it can occur with maternal diabetes or an infection when pregnant. Usually, age-related hearing loss is caused by the progressive loss of inner-ear hair cells.
Half of all cases of deafness and hearing impairment are avoidable through prevention, early diagnoses and management. In sound energy terms, however, reducing the sound energy by half only results in a 3 dB reduction. The frequency range of human hearing is typically from 20Hz to 20kHz in adults with normal hearing. This is connected via mechanical means to three sets of bones – the hammer, the anvil and the stirrup, which amplify the sound. Also damage to the outer hair cells appears to affect the dynamic range of sounds which can be observed; that is, the range between the minimum audible sound and that which causes pain. This normally means that the ability to identify high pitched sounds such as bells, is affected initially, followed by increased difficulty in understanding speech with voices sounding muffled.
Studies show that for 97% protection of the population at all frequencies, noise must not be greater than 75 dBA. Most countries have an upper limit of 90 dBA due to the economic implications of meeting 85 dBA.
The means for noise control very much depends on the source of the noise and the nature of the noise generation mechanism. Often a noisy machine is a symptom of it operating inefficiently and so attending to the source of noise can also have benefits in terms of the machine operating more efficiently. These measures may limit the area affected by the noise so that only the operator requires additional hearing protection.
Generally, if a worker is exposed to a noise level 3 dB above a target noise criteria, they need to reduce the time for which they are exposed by half to meet the criteria.

This can provide very good reduction?in noise levels, but may not always be practical in terms of the work process. Generally this type of hearing protector provides more attenuation than ear plugs, but this depends on the individual product and manufacturer’s specification. This can be achieved by selection of the correct performance hearing protection, so it is not over attenuating the sound. Some outline guides to noise control measures are given, along with some guidance on the choice of hearing?protection. This can include noise from many sources and is not limited to noise from discos, live music venues, but extends to the use of MP3 players. Autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, also can be linked to some forms of hearing loss.
The average decibel level at a rock show is 110, loud enough to cause permanent damage after just 15 minutes. Hearing damage can occur with extended exposure of any noise over 85 decibels. Diseases known to affect hearing in children include chickenpox, encephalitis, influenza, measles, meningitis, and mumps. Hearing loss can also develop if a newborn is premature or from other causes such as trauma during birth resulting in the infant not getting enough oxygen.
This demonstrates in some way the challenge of noise control, in that a considerable reduction in sound energy is required before subjectively there is even a noticeable difference in noise level.
This temporary reduction in hearing sensitivity following exposure to a loud noise source is known as temporary threshold shift (TTS). The arithmetic average of 25 dB loss defines the boundary between just adequate and inadequate hearing sensitivity for speech recognition. It may be possible to limit when the machine runs under certain conditions, such as at different speeds, if this reduces the noise level. Depending on the layout of the factory, it may be possible to reduce internal noise levels by the addition of absorption to the factory. Alternatively, the provision of a quieter space for part of the day in which to conduct other work activities can assist in reducing the overall daily exposure for an employee. Over specification can make speech communication difficult and also make hearing alarms more difficult. The key issues which should be incorporated as part of a hearing conservation programme have also been described. The latter is of particular danger, as people do not appreciate these can quite easily contribute to a person’s daily overall noise exposure. Think you have an earwax blockage?┬áDon't try removing the wax with a cotton-tipped swab or by inserting anything else into your ear canal.
They are less sensitive to low frequency noise and most sensitive to frequencies where understanding speech is important (500Hz to 2kHz).
The high frequency range contains information about consonants and these carry most of the information in speech. Absorption may be added in the form of sound absorbing screens, wall panels or suspended ceiling panels. Also, there are solid moulded ear plugs (non-disposable) available which are moulded to the individual’s ear-canal. Also, depending on the site, safety may be a consideration, as people naturally use hearing for warning of moving plant or vehicles.
Depending on the room layout and amount of existing sound absorption within the room, the addition of absorption can potentially reduce the noise level by up to 3 dB. Generally, ear plugs provide slightly less acoustic protection, but have the advantage that they are not bulky and do not affect other protective equipment.
Although there may not be much reduction in the volume of the speech, the sense of the speech is lost.

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