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Suffering from hearing-loss. What is causing this problem?

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ENT Specialist
Practicing since : 1991
Answered : 2543 Questions
I have had a lot of question about hearing and hearing-loss;
Im satisfied about every answer, But I just interested to know of some of the situation I have been in; and see if it's XXXXXXX for my hearing or not.

Today at work, a big truck used his horn to get attention from me; it's was about 10-15 meters away, and it really shocked me, the sound was really loud. But my ear didn't hurt and I did'nt get any ringing in my ears after.
The truck horn sounded 1 sec or less; but it was loud.

a truck horn is about 130 dB I think.

The reason Im asking is; some doctors tell people at every sound above 85 dB is XXXXXXX but some doctors say that the sound is only XXXXXXX if it hurts; or in a long period of time. which is it ?

I just want to know; is this possible gonna affect my hearing or give me hearing damage later in life.

Posted Fri, 3 Aug 2012 in Ear, Nose and Throat Problems
Answered by Dr. Sumit Bhatti 34 minutes later

Thank you for your query.

1. Exposure to sound up to 130dB will normally require 1 to 5 min of continuous exposure to damage the hearing permanently. 130 dB is similar to listening to a Rock Band next to the speakers.

2. Exposure to sound at 140 dB and beyond will normally require 1 to 30 seconds of continuous exposure to damage the hearing permanently. 140 dB is similar to listening to a Gunshot or Jet taking off at very close range. This can cause instant hearing loss.

3. Since you did not experience additional hearing loss / distortion, ringing in ear, ear block or ear ache there is unlikely to be any lasting damage.

4. The best way is to compare a new PTA (Pure Tone Audiogram) with an older one, if available.

5. Continuous, gradual exposure to Noise > 85 dB over 8 hours may result in permanent hearing loss.

6. There is always the possibility that a sudden impulsive sound between 90 to 140 dB may bypass the acoustic reflex and damage hearing instantly.

7. A lot depends on the distance and any reflex action such a s protecting the ears with the hands at the time of the exposure which may have limited the intensity and time duration of the exposure.

I must emphasize that this is unlikely to be a serious problem with a 1second or so exposure to an air horn.

I hope that I have answered your queries. If you have any further questions, I will be available to answer them.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Answered by Dr. Sumit Bhatti 34 minutes later

Thanks for the query

First of all, I would like to reassure you it is very unlikely that the honking of the truck for a brief period will cause any damage to the hearing in the future.

For example, the noise emitted by the honking of the truck is around 85dB and that of the aircraft is around 120dB. If that amount of noise would have caused hearing loss, then all the truck drivers and the ground engineers of the aircraft would have become deaf.

The generally accepted standard to minimize hearing risk is based on an exposure to 85 dBA for a maximum limit of eight hours per day. But, the noise levels above 140 dB are not considered safe for any period of time, however brief.

Hence, it is not possible for you to develop hearing loss with such a brief exposure.

Hope I have answered your query; I will be available for the follow-up queries. Do accept my answer in case there are no further queries.

Dr. Naveen Kumar N.
ENT and Head & Neck Surgeon
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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