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Acoustic Trauma: Types, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Every year, World Trauma Day is observed on 17 October. Established by the United States Bone and Joint Initiative in 2000, the day is commemorated to shine a light on the importance of saving and protecting a life during the most critical moments and preparing and applying critical measures to deal with and avoid trauma fatalities.

The focus is not only in severe traumas, but every kind of trauma can be prevented and avoided. On this World Trauma Day, let us take a look at what acoustic trauma is and how one gets it.

You develop acoustic trauma when high-decibel noise causes injury in your inner ear. Acoustic trauma develops once you get exposed single, very loud noise or from exposure to noises at significant decibels over a longer period [1] .

The condition can damage the way vibrations are understood within your ears, thereby leading to hearing loss. The three critical factors that play a central role in acoustic trauma are the intensity of the sound (measured in decibels), the frequency or the pitch of the sound and the total time the person was exposed to the sound [2]

Types Of Acoustic Trauma

The condition can be caused by two different reasons, which are as follows [3] :

  • Trauma that occurred suddenly through injury
  • Trauma that occurred through ongoing exposure to loud noises

Symptoms Of Acoustic Trauma

The central and main sign of the condition is hearing loss. Apart from this, individuals with acoustic trauma begin to have difficulty hearing high-frequency sounds first and then, go on to find it difficult to hear g sounds at lower frequencies [4] .

Like hearing loss, tinnitus is also a major sign of acoustic trauma, which can be caused by drug use, changes to blood vessels etc.

Causes Of Acoustic Trauma

The condition is caused by powerful and sudden sounds like an explosion. Loud music from concerts also poses as a cause.

Trauma caused by loud music in a party or a concert is often temporary [5] .

Risk Factors For Acoustic Trauma

The following reasons can increase an individual's risk of developing acoustic trauma [6] :

  • Constant exposure to high-decibel sounds which continue for long periods
  • Frequently going for music concerts and other events with high-decibel music
  • Individuals who go to gun ranges
  • Being exposed to extremely loud sounds without proper equipment, such as earplugs

Diagnosis Of Acoustic Trauma

The doctor will begin by asking what kind of noises you've been exposed to during different times.

Audiometry will be used to detect signs of acoustic trauma, where you will be exposed to sounds of varying loudness and different tones to assess what you can hear and what you cannot [7] .

Treatment For Acoustic Trauma

There is no cure for hearing loss. Medical care can help improve the condition. The treatments for acoustic trauma are as follows [8] :

Medications such as oral steroid medications are prescribed for individuals with acute acoustic trauma.

Apart from the medication, the other steps involved in the medical care for acoustic trauma are ear protection - that is, using earplugs and other kinds of devices to protect your hearing.

Technological hearing assistance methods such as hearing aid and cochlear implants are also helpful [9] .

FAQs On Acoustic Trauma

Q. Is acoustic trauma permanent?

A. A type of condition called the permanent acoustic trauma defines a permanent condition where the individual will be unable to hear within a certain range of high-frequency tones [10] .

Q. Can loud noises cause ear pain?

A. Long exposure to loud noises, such as attending a concert with no ear protection, can damage the delicate structures within the ear. This can cause a ringing in the ears and can make hearing difficult and interrupt daily life.

Q. Can acoustic trauma cause vertigo?

A. In some people, yes.

View Article References
  1. [1] Coyat, C., Cazevieille, C., Baudoux, V., Larroze-Chicot, P., Caumes, B., & Gonzalez-Gonzalez, S. (2019). Morphological consequences of acoustic trauma on cochlear hair cells and the auditory nerve. International Journal of Neuroscience, 129(6), 580-587.
  2. [2] Fujioka, M., Okano, H. J., Kojima, H., Kurihara, S., & Yoshida, T. (2019). U.S. Patent Application No. 16/197,742.
  3. [3] Möhrle, D., Hofmeier, B., Amend, M., Wolpert, S., Ni, K., Bing, D., ... & Rüttiger, L. (2019). Enhanced central neural gain compensates acoustic trauma-induced cochlear impairment, but unlikely correlates with tinnitus and hyperacusis. Neuroscience, 407, 146-169.
  4. [4] Axelsson, A., & Hamernik, R. P. (1987). Acute acoustic trauma. Acta oto-laryngologica, 104(3-4), 225-233.
  5. [5] Cody, A. R., & Johnstone, B. M. (1980). Single auditory neuron response during acute acoustic trauma. Hearing research, 3(1), 3-16.
  6. [6] Probst, R., Tschopp, K., Lodin, E., Kellerhals, B., Podvinec, M., & Pfaltz, C. R. (1992). A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of dextran/pentoxifylline medication in acute acoustic trauma and sudden hearing loss. Acta oto-laryngologica, 112(3), 435-443.
  7. [7] Kellerhals, B., Hippert, F., & Pfaltz, C. R. (1971). Treatment of acute acoustic trauma with low molecular weight dextran. ORL, 33(4), 260-264.
  8. [8] Temmel, A. F., Kierner, A. C., Steurer, M., Riedl, S., & Innitzer, J. (1999). Hearing loss and tinnitus in acute acoustic trauma. Wiener Klinische Wochenschrift, 111(21), 891-893.
  9. [9] Kellerhals, B. (1972). Pathogenesis of inner ear lesions in acute acoustic trauma. Acta oto-laryngologica, 73(2-6), 249-253.
  10. [10] Pilgramm, M., & Schumann, K. (1985). Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for acute acoustic trauma. Archives of oto-rhino-laryngology, 241(3), 247-257.

Read more about: ear pain trauma
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