Did you know that one of the most common work-related illnesses is hearing loss? Somewhere around 30 to 50 million workers in this country, including some in New Jersey, work in environments in which the noise levels are dangerously high.

Around 10 million Americans have already suffered noise-induced hearing loss, and it is irreversible. Not being able to hear can limit your ability to perform your job duties. In fact, you may no longer be able to work depending on the severity of your hearing loss.

Your hearing loss could come from noise

When you are consistently exposed to a certain level of noise, you could lose your hearing over time. The continuous exposure could damage your inner ear. NIHL affects the hearing in both of your ears, but it may not occur at the same rate.

It depends on the type of noise to which you are exposed. For instance, if you shoot a high caliber weapon such as a rifle or shotgun, you hold the weapon on one side of your body. The ear closest to the muzzle will probably experience faster hearing loss than the other ear.

You could experience tinnitus

It’s not bad enough that you may lose your hearing, but a ringing, hissing or buzzing in your ears may plague you when there is no external sound. This could cause sleep disturbances, emotional issues and concentration problems since you may not ever experience quiet. This condition could also drown out external sounds you need or want to hear such as voices and other external sounds.

Noise speeds up hearing loss

As you age, you may naturally lose some of your hearing. Think about how often you have to raise your voice or repeat yourself to an elderly person. When you suffer exposure to dangerously loud levels of noise, it speeds up the “aging” process that your hearing may naturally go through. While many elderly people continue to hear all of their lives, you may lose your hearing all together due to NIHL. If you wonder whether you suffer from NIHL, look for the following symptoms:

  • Your ears feel “full” when you leave a high noise area.
  • You suddenly can’t understand what people are saying after leaving a high noise area.
  • You can’t hear someone talking when he or she is only about three feet away from you.
  • You experience tinnitus after exposure to noise.
  • You can hear people talking but can’t quite understand what they say.

If you experience these symptoms, you may want to see a doctor for a diagnosis. If the situation becomes bad enough, you may no longer be able to work. You may want to look into applying for Social Security disability insurance benefits to help with your financial situation.