Hearing loss can be caused by occupational and recreational noise as well as genetic factors, diseases (e.g., otosclerosis, Meniere's disease), drugs and medications, trauma, tumors, and aging. Hearing loss that is specifically the result of continuous or intermittent exposure to loud noise over a long period of time is referred to as noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Of the 40 million Americans who suffer from hearing loss, 10 million can be attributed to NIHL. Exposure to loud noise is an important and serious issue. Children, teenagers and adults are all at risk for developing NIHL. For instance, some children's toys make noise that is capable of permanently damaging their hearing. Playing instruments, attending concerts and listening to music at a high volume are common activities that can contribute to hearing loss. The use of lawn mowers, power tools and other loud equipment can also permanently damage a person's hearing. Exposure to high levels of noise is also of concern because it can cause other conditions and symptoms including anxiety, chronic fatigue, gastrointestinal problems, high blood pressure, stress, and tinnitus (ringing in the ear).
Oregon Department of Human Services, Public Health Division, Office of Environmental Public Health Toxicology, Assessment & Tracking Services Section (TATS), 800 NE Oregon Street #640 Portland, OR 97232
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