UHealth Ear Institute Treats Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Workplace Noise Can Damage Hearing Over Time

Dr. Sandra Velandia is an audiologist at UHealth Ear Institute, part of University of Miami Health System. For more information on the treatment of noise-induced hearing loss or to make an appointment, call 305-243-1110 or visit the University of Miami's health news blog.

Carlos Nudelman has spent much of his life on a factory floor, first as as a young apprentice at an awning manufacturing company in Argentina, followed by more than 35 years as owner of a Valrose Awnings in Miami.

"We have punchers, welding machines, grinders, hammers. All kinds of things that make noise," says Carlos. Years of exposure to these loud noises led Carlos to UHealth Ear Institute, where he was screened and diagnosed with noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).

There are several treatment options for patients with noise-induced hearing loss, says UHealth audiologist Dr. Sandra Velandia. "Often patients are first treated medically. If the hearing doesn't return, then we treat them with hearing aids or cochlear implants."

The team at UHealth Ear Institute fitted Carlos for hearing aids. "I didn't know I was missing so much, the voice, my voice, other people's voice, the TV. It was incredible to hear all these things again," he says.

Workplace noise is a risk for people in a number of professions, including EMTs, construction workers, musicians and firefighters. But noise-induced hearing loss can happen to anyone. "We're exposed to noise practically everywhere we go...in the gym, in restaurants, at concerts," says Dr. Velandia. "Approximately 20 percent of children already have hearing loss due to exposure to loud music while wearing their ear buds."

When a person begins to lose their hearing, the higher frequencies are affected first, says Dr. Velandia. Often patients are not aware that their hearing has been compromised until a loved one brings it to their attention.

How loud is too loud? Normal conversational level is 60 decibels, says Dr. Velandia. "So, if you're exposed to 85 decibels eight hours a day, you need to start wearing protection to prevent hearing loss."

Carlos now wears ear protection when he visits the shop floor, and he encourages his employees to do the same. "I show them what I wear and I say, 'I recommend you do this because it's very important for you.'"

UHealth Ear Institute has a comprehensive medical and audiological program that provides patients with treatment for hearing loss and tinnitus, as well as problems with balance and dizziness, says Dr. Velandia. "You don't need to go anywhere else."

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