Every day in our environment we experience sound, whether it’s pleasant, like music, or bothersome, like sirens. Unpleasant or unwanted noisy environments can be dreadful; not only can noise increase our stress level and inhibit us from carrying out daily tasks, but also in the long run overexposure to noise can damage our hearing. This is known as noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).


  • Impulse noise, a one-time exposure to a loud sound such as an explosion. This can cause temporary and/or permanent hearing loss.

  • Continuous exposure to loud noise. This type of hearing loss happens gradually over time.

NIHL affects our inner-ear hair cells as well as the auditory or hearing nerve. For a more in-depth understanding, see: how hearing works.

Not only can this type of hearing loss be permanent, it can also lead to tinnitus. Tinnitus is hearing a constant ringing, buzzing, or roaring without an external sound source. It can be in one or both ears and often occurs with hearing loss.


Hearing Health Foundation's Safe and Sound program advocates three ways to protect against excessive noise:

  • Block the noise by wearing earplugs or protective earmuffs, like those used by airport or lawn service walkers.

  • Walk away from loud noises or limit time spent in noisy environments.

  • Turn down the sound – if it’s under your control – on the growing number of tools, toys, and gadgets that add to the increasing noise level of daily life.

  Source: NIDCD

Source: NIDCD