If you’re a concert aficionado, you may know that muffled feeling in your ears after enjoying a show at Tyson Events Center all too well. This phenomenon is known as temporary threshold shift (TTS). We review everything you need to know about TTS below.
How Do We Hear?
In order to understand TTS, it’s important to know how we hear.
Soundwaves from the environment are captured by the outer ear and travel down the ear canal, which leads to the eardrum. When the soundwave hits the eardrum, a vibration is created, which passes through three tiny bones within the middle ear called the malleus, incus and stapes. This vibration reaches the fluid-filled cochlea in the inner ear, which causes the fluid to move. The movement activates the tiny hair cells that line the cochlea, creating an electrical impulse. This electrical impulse travels via the auditory nerve to the brain where it is interpreted as sound.
What Causes Temporary Threshold Shift?
Exposure to excessively loud sounds can bend the stereocilia, and once bent, they can remain this way for days or even weeks. This is why it takes time for you to fully regain your full sense of hearing after being exposed to loud sounds like at a concert. The louder the noise, the longer recovery will take.
When Temporary Threshold Shift Becomes Permanent
As the name suggests, TTS is temporary, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be serious. While one loud concert probably won’t permanently damage your auditory system, repeated exposure can lead to permanent threshold shift (PTS).
How loud Is Too Loud?
Any sound over 85 dB can cause temporary threshold shift or permanent damage with enough exposure. For reference, below is a list put together by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders of the average decibel rating of familiar sounds:
- Normal conversation: 60-70 dB.
- Movie theater: 74-104 dB.
- Motorcycles: 80-110 dB.
- Sporting events and concerts: 94-110 dB.
- Sirens: 110-129 dB.
- Fireworks show: 140-160 dB.
The best way to prevent this type of noise damage is to wear earplugs or earmuffs when exposed to sounds over 85 dB.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, call Hearing Health Centers today.