First Time User? Enroll now.
COVID-19: Vaccine information and additional resources | Medicaid: The program is changing and you must take steps to keep your UNC Health providers
Home > Health Library > Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Hearing loss caused by noise can occur in people of any age. It may happen suddenly or gradually. How soon it happens depends on the source and intensity of the noise.
Whether a noise is harmful depends on how loud it is and how long you're around it.
Noise can affect hearing in several ways.
To be heard, sound energy has to be strong enough to bend tiny hair cells in the cochlea, a part of the inner ear. The force of loud noise can damage these hair cells. A small amount of damage may have no effect on hearing. But with repeated exposure to noise, more of the hair cells are damaged, causing hearing loss.
Noise-induced hearing loss usually affects both ears. But one ear may be affected more than the other if you've had repeated, long-term exposure to a loud sound that always comes from the same direction. An example is gunfire that's always near the same ear.
Current as of:
December 2, 2020
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineCharles M. Myer III MD - Otolaryngology
Current as of: December 2, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Charles M. Myer III MD - Otolaryngology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.