Why is it important to look after your hearing?
Hearing loss means that some sounds can't be heard. People with mild hearing loss may miss only soft sounds; for those with more severe hearing loss, many sounds may be inaudible. The inability to hear sounds loudly enough is only one of the problems associated with hearing loss. There are other effects of hearing loss which can interfere with listening and communication:
Our hearing ability can affect our quality of life
Hearing difficulties can result in social difficulties or loss of confidence. Difficulties with conversation can leave us feeling embarrassed or left out, or withdrawing from social occasions.
With a hearing loss, listening can be tiring.
Hearing loss can also make it difficult to hear important sounds in the environment, the telephone, doorbell, television, or important warnings sounds (e.g. traffic approaching, smoke alarms etc).
Why is noise hazardous to hearing?
The hearing system is complex and delicate. The inner part of the ear (or cochlea) contains fluid, and thousands of tiny hair-like cells. Loud noise can damage these sensitive structures, leading to hearing loss that is irreversible.
Loud sound does not have to be physically painful to cause hearing damage. If you are in a situation in which you need to raise your voice to be understood, then the noise is probably too loud. Damage to hearing from noise accumulates, just as the sun can gradually damage our skin. The higher the level of sound and the longer the exposure, the more damage likely to occur.
Protecting your hearing
For more information on loud noise and how to protect your hearing, download our fact sheet.
Australian Hearing's research division, National Acoustic Laboratories (NAL), regularly conducts research on noise and hearing.
If you are interested in participating in any future noise research projects at NAL, email email@example.com with your first name, email address, phone (optional), age, gender and whether you have a hearing loss.
For more information on NAL's work, visit www.nal.gov.au