What is Acoustic Trauma?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel
People who have experienced acoustic trauma may need to communicate via sign language.
People who have experienced acoustic trauma may need to communicate via sign language.

Acoustic trauma is a kind of trauma or injury that affects a person's hearing. In many cases, the mechanisms in the inner ear are damaged or injured in some way and the most common cause of this trauma is unusually loud noise. The most common symptoms of acoustic trauma include ringing in the ears, which is also called tinnitus, and hearing loss. Hearing loss usually just affects part of one's hearing with the loss of the ability to hear sounds that are high-pitched. However, it is possible for the trauma to affect and damage other parts of the hearing register and may get worse over time.

A doctor may perform tests to assess a person's level of acoustic trauma, and to outfit her with a hearing aid.
A doctor may perform tests to assess a person's level of acoustic trauma, and to outfit her with a hearing aid.

The most common causes of acoustic trauma and damage the the hearing mechanisms within the inner ear include exposure to loud noises — especially exposure over a long period of time — and exposure to incredibly loud noises just once or few times. Incredibly loud noises may include gunshots and explosions. Hearing loss that is the result of exposure to noise over a long period of time may be the result of listening to loud music or being exposed to the noises of loud machinery.

Frequently listening to loud music with headphones can cause ear trauma.
Frequently listening to loud music with headphones can cause ear trauma.

Unfortunately, acoustic trauma is not always treatable. The best treatment for acoustic trauma is prevention and the preservation of the existing or remaining hearing. For people with severe hearing loss, hearing aids may be required. Sometimes people who lose most or all of their hearing will have to begin learning to lip read or to communicate via sign language.

Acoustic trauma can be prevented by wearing protective devices when exposed to loud noises. During loud concerts or while working with loud machinery, it is important to wear ear plugs or ear muffs that are specifically designed to block out or muffle loud noises. It is common for such forms of protective headgear to be required of workers performing certain kinds of jobs. Even people who have experienced some hearing loss can prevent further hearing loss by taking these kinds of precautions.

In order to assess the extent of acoustic trauma, it is important to consult a doctor. A doctor will be able to perform tests to assess the level of trauma and, when necessary, to outfit patients with hearing aids. A doctor can also instruct patients in how to best use protective head gear in order to make sure that further acoustic trauma is avoided or at least kept to a minimum.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for , Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for , Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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    • People who have experienced acoustic trauma may need to communicate via sign language.
      By: Dan Race
      People who have experienced acoustic trauma may need to communicate via sign language.
    • A doctor may perform tests to assess a person's level of acoustic trauma, and to outfit her with a hearing aid.
      By: dotweb.dk
      A doctor may perform tests to assess a person's level of acoustic trauma, and to outfit her with a hearing aid.
    • Frequently listening to loud music with headphones can cause ear trauma.
      By: Warren Goldswain
      Frequently listening to loud music with headphones can cause ear trauma.