I’m sure almost everyone has a parent who has warned them to turn down loud music or else they’d go deaf. While these warnings may sound exaggerated, there is some truth to them. As a matter of fact, overexposure to loud noise, from any number of different sources, does in fact put you at risk of both temporary and permanent hearing loss.
Being exposed to loud noises for a period of time results in just temporary loss of hearing. This sort of hearing loss usually recovers by the end of the day with rest. The function the ear performs protects the inner ear hair cells by stiffening of the eardrum, which reflects some of the sound off of it. However, evolution is still in action, and the fact that longer durations of loud noises from day to day in workplaces are more abundant than ever, especially in jobs requiring construction or factory work. Because we’ve only been exposed to this for the last thousand years or so, we’ve yet to fully adapt to such consistent damage, and as such, the two muscles in your middle-ear that cause your ear drum to stiffen fatigue after extended periods of time, allowing sound to sometimes cause permanent damage when exposed frequently.
Many people experience what is called tinnitus, which is a term for what is sometimes referred to as a “ringing” in your ears, or a feeling of “fullness”. However, tinnitus is actually considered a symptom, rather than a condition. It’s related to general loss of hearing, and appears when you experience ear injuries or hearing loss related to age.
All in all, our ears are delicate, and very much still developing, and it’s better to play it safe.
If you want to experiment with the effects of your every day life on your hearing, a common test is to wear a single earplug in one ear, and not in the other. Proceed to go about your day normally. At the end of it, remove the ear plug, and you should notice the difference in hearing between your ears. You’d be surprised to know how much they’re affected, even if it’s only temporary!