FRIDAY, July 12, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Hearing loss isn't reversible so you need to protect your ears from loud noises, an expert says.
"Once hearing is damaged, it cannot be repaired," Jyoti Bhayani, an audiologist at Loyola University Health System, said in a Loyola news release. "And hearing aids have yet to become coveted status accessories, so young people need to wise up and turn the volume down on their earbuds," she advised.
"Three in five Americans, especially youth, are prone to develop hearing loss due to loud music being delivered via earbuds," Bhayani noted.
One in 10 Americans has hearing loss that affects their ability to understand normal speech. While aging is the most common cause of hearing loss, excessive noise is another important and preventable cause.
But earbuds aren't the only culprit. Loud noises in factories, construction sites and other locations can also cause hearing damage.
"When noise is too loud, it begins to kill the hair cells and nerve endings in the inner ear," Bhayani explained. "The louder a noise, the longer the exposure and the closer you are to the noise source, the more damaging it is to your nerve endings, or your hearing."
As the number of nerve endings decreases due to damage, so does your hearing. Nerve endings cannot be healed or regenerated, and the damage is permanent, she said.
"It is important to know the intensity of the sounds around you," Bhayani said. "I recommend using hearing protection devices for those who are exposed to excessive, loud noises and musician's earplugs, which simply attenuate the intensity/loudness without altering frequency response."
The U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders has more about preventing noise-related hearing loss.