There is nothing temporary about temporary threshold shift

This image by AlexChirkin has been dedicated to the public domain

by Jan L. Mayes, MSc, Audiologist

This Healthy Hearing article on temporary threshold shift or muffled hearing after noise exposure varies between strong statements and caveats. I disagree with the quoted source who says, “[y]ou’ll be back to normal. Hence the name: It’s temporary.” Fortunately, the article includes warnings about temporary threshold shift and risk of permanent noise-induced hearing damage.

Let’s be clear: Temporary threshold shift is not benign.

Temporary muffled hearing or tinnitus, i.e., ringing in the ears, after loud exposure typically indicates permanent underlying auditory nerve damage regardless of any hearing recovery. Every episode of temporary shifts or hearing changes following noise exposure increases the risk of developing permanent hearing loss and tinnitus.

If you notice temporary hearing changes or symptoms after noise or music exposure, then you didn’t protect your hearing properly. You must protect your hearing during every exposure or lose it. This means using well-fitting earplugs or earmuffs to seal out sound waves for the entire time the loud exposure is happening.

It’s never too late to start protecting your hearing.

Consider temporary threshold shift an urgent warning to start.

Jan L. Mayes is a quiet activist, audiologist (retired), and award winning non-fiction author. Her areas of interest include tinnitus, decreased sound tolerance, and preventable noise damage to hearing health and speech understanding. She is a member of The Quiet Coalition and American Tinnitus Association. 

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