Many people are familiar with the sensation of muffled hearing and a ringing in the ears following a concert, party or loud movie. This muffled hearing phenomenon is a sign of a temporary threshold shift. As the name suggests (TTS), is a temporary shift in your hearing ability that returns to baseline levels over time.
What Causes Temporary Threshold Shift?
When you hear a friend call out to you or milk steaming at Bobaccinos Café, the sound travels through the outer ear, middle ear and into the cochlea in the inner ear. The cochlea contains fluid that moves in response to vibrations from the middle ear. As the fluid moves, tiny hair cells in the cochlea transform the vibrations into electrical signals. The signals then travel to the brain’s auditory center, where they are interpreted as sound.
The average person has approximately 16,000 hair cells in their cochlea at birth. When these hair cells are exposed to loud noise, they can become bent or damaged, leading to a temporary threshold shift.
Why Should You Avoid Temporary Threshold Shifts?
While your hearing may return to normal within a few hours or days, too much exposure to loud noise can overwork the hair cells and lead to permanent hearing loss. Because permanent damage can occur, it is essential to practice hearing protection.
How Can You Protect Your Hearing?
Prolonged or frequent exposure to sounds above 85 decibels can cause permanent hearing loss. The louder the sound, the faster hearing loss occurs. A few ways you can protect your hearing include:
- Wear earplugs. Earplugs create a seal around the opening of your ear and dampen the force with which sound hits your inner ear, helping to prevent hearing damage during exposure to loud noise.
- Lower the volume. Music or other media played through headphones at max volume can range from 94-110 decibels, well above the threshold for hearing loss. Set decibel limits on your smartphone to prevent you from raising the volume higher than is safe.
By employing hearing protection strategies to avoid repeated temporary threshold shifts, you can help prevent unnecessary hearing loss. To learn more about hearing loss and protection, contact Hearing Healthcare Center today to make an appointment with one of our specialists.