Temporary Hearing Loss
(Threshold Shift)

Your ears can recover from the temporary hearing loss caused by occasional, mild overexposure to noise, if you give them a chance.


man cupping his ear to hear
Image courtesy of US NIOSH

Temporary Loss of Hearing

If your ears are ringing or sounds seem muted and distant after you've been in a noisy environment, you are experiencing a type of hearing loss, which is probably temporary. This happens because the delicate hair cells in your inner ear have been overworked and are fatigued, and are not functioning as well as usual.

Restoring Your Normal Hearing

If a hearing loss is temporary, your hearing can recover if you give it the chance. That means leaving the noisy environment, or using hearing protection if leaving is not immediately possible. Then you'll want to rest your ears, avoiding high levels of noise for at least 24 hours, ideally keeping your noise exposure below 70 decibels.

Your ears should recover within 16 hours; in some cases it may take 48-72 hours (2-3 days) to be restored. If after two weeks your normal hearing still has not returned, it's likely that the hair cells have been unable to recover and you've experienced some degree of permanent hearing damage.

A Warning Sign

Any time you lose some of your hearing capacity, even if only temporarily, that's a warning sign. Remember what caused it, and take it as a useful lesson that that situation can be harmful to your hearing, whether it's mowing the lawn, going out to a crowded bar, or attending a sporting event. To avoid the possibility of temporary hearing problems becoming permanent, use hearing protection every time you are in a similar situation in the future.





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