Last year in early July, a young man came in because he was experiencing ringing in the ears and a feeling like his ears were stuffed with cotton. He mentioned that for Independence Day he spent several hours setting off celebratory fireworks. Tests indicated that the young man’s ears were normal and several days later his hearing returned to normal.

The young man experienced reversible hearing loss, also known as a temporary threshold shift or auditory fatigue. Exposure to very loud pulsing sounds, such as fireworks or rock music.

If the sound is too loud or heard for too long, permanent hearing loss can occur. That condition is known as noise-induced hearing loss, or permanent threshold shift.

The easiest way to protect your hearing against reversible hearing loss is to wear protective hearing gear, such as ear plugs, when you know you’ll be near loud or sustained sounds.

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