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NIHL (noise-induced hearing loss)

NIHL noise-induced hearing loss

Noise and their effects on our hearing – NIHL (noise-induced hearing loss)

Every day our ears are exposed to various sounds and noises, from tooting traffic to listening to the radio and TV. Typically these sounds aren’t harmful; however, it’s essential to understand what noises at what volume can affect your hearing, so here is some information on noise-induced hearing loss.

What is NIHL?

Noise-induced hearing loss is something that can occur over time or suddenly through excessive exposure to loud sounds and noises. Many variables cause NIHL; however, it’s good to know that it can be prevented!

Sound is measured in decibels. Prolonged or repeated exposure to sounds above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss.

Soft whisper 30 dB
Light traffic 50 dB
Vacuum cleaner 75 dB
Lawn Mower 90 dB
Firecracker 140 dB


What causes NIHL?

A sudden, loud sound like an explosion can cause NIHL; however, it’s more common to occur over some time. It can happen by constantly listening to music loudly with headphones, attending loud concerts or even exposing your ears to noises from household items like lawnmowers. We commonly treat people with NIHL as a result of working in a factory, in construction or amidst loud industrial noise. The level of sound but also how long you’re exposed to it for plays a factor in the effects: anyone, no matter what age can be affected by NIHL.

Warning signs of NIHL

Noise damage to your hearing can take time and is, therefore, not always noticeable right away. Warning signs include muffled sounds or noises, struggling to hear the TV or difficulty hearing a conversation, especially in background noise in a restaurant or pub.

If a loud blast damages your hearing, you’ll experience a ringing or buzzing in your ear known as tinnitus. We’ll talk more about this in our next blog.

How to prevent NIHL

  • Please familiarise yourself with sounds and their decibels (watch this space for a decibel table that will help you)
  • Wear earplugs or earmuffs if you’re doing activities where loud noises may occur.
  • Be aware when approaching noisy areas and avoid getting close to them.
  • Be aware of the volume in your headset/headphone.

If you work in a noisy environment, your workplace should provide ear protection. Make sure you use them whenever in any noisy environment you’re exposed to.

If you feel you have NIHL as a result of work, we can assist you with WorkCover Claims to ensure you receive compensation in the form of a payout and hearing devices. We have legal counsel who can assist and work on a ‘No win – No fee basis’.

Our consultation and reporting for NIHL claims are free. Call us at your nearest clinic to book your NIHL assessment.



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