Q. Can noise exposure at a young age lead to delayed onset NIHL later in life?

Answered by
Dr. Priyanka Aggarwal
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Jun 22, 2017 and last reviewed on: Oct 09, 2018

Hi doctor,

I want you to review a portion of a medical report and put it in layman's term. I am specifically hoping that this report confirms my suspicion that the effects of noise exposure at younger ages can lead to delayed onset of noise-induced hearing loss later in life. The document contains 476 words. Is this something that you can do?



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  • Yes, I can. Please attach the report here.

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Thank you doctor,

I have attached the report. I am asking for an analysis of the section on the pathophysiology of NIHL (noise-induced hearing loss). I worked in the Navy, and I am trying to make the connection that my hearing loss is partially caused by my 1312 hours of flying in high-performance jet aircraft and working around these aircraft for five years. Any other report or article that aids in making this connection would be appreciated. I have moderately severe hearing loss, and it is getting worse. I am 74 years old. Thanks.



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I have read the attached report (attachment removed to protect patient identity).

  • Noise-induced hearing loss can be sudden or gradual. High-performance jets can be a cause. A single exposure can cause damage that can cause nerve damage and hence hearing loss. This can be avoided by wearing ear plugs.
  • On the other hand, a gradual exposure to loud sound can also cause nerve damage gradually, which becomes noticeable only once it is too much.
  • Another cause of hearing loss in elderly is an age-related hearing loss or presbycusis. It is possible for a person to have some noise-induced hearing loss, which is aggravated on aging.
  • The worsening of hearing loss, in your case, is definitely an age-related hearing loss. It is not recoverable, but you can use hearing aids. Secondly, Vitamin B12 supplements can slow down its progression.

Please send me your audiometry report, so that I can suggest you better in this regard. Any further questions are always welcome. Thanks and regards.

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Hi doctor,

Thanks for the prompt reply. I appreciate your comments, but the main reason for my query is to have a hearing specialist look at the article I sent and see whether it says that hearing loss for young adults may not manifest itself until later in life when presbycusis also becomes a factor.



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  • There are two types of NIHL. It can be temporary or permanent. Hearing loss is of many grades from mild to profound. A person gets tested for his hearing only when he faces difficulty in hearing.
  • Noise-induced hearing loss can be gradual enough that it is unmotivated in the beginning for long and gets noticeable only when hearing loss is of high degree.
  • This all is a matter of some functional hair cells and also the frequencies being affected. In the noise-induced hearing loss, the loss is maximum around 4000 Hz, but a person can hear lower and higher frequencies clearly, so he may not notice it.
  • As the person gets older, there is degeneration of hair cells causing age-induced hearing loss. So, it is possible that he might notice any loss once this age effect sets in.

I hope my explanation proves helpful to you. You are always welcome with any further queries. Thanks and regards.

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