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Will you ever recover from Temporary Threshold Shift?

After exposure to loud sound - noise or music - your hearing will become less sensitive. Is this damaging? Will your hearing fully return?

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Yes! That's the good news - temporary threshold shift is nature's way for the ear to protect itself against loud sounds.

You will undoubtedly have experienced temporary threshold shift many times in your life. Take the example of going for an evening out to a club where loud music is played...

You have an enjoyable evening, drinking in moderation of course so as not to introduce yet another variable into the quality of your hearing.

Afterwards, you leave with your friends and chat while waiting for the designated driver to bring the car around. People passing by wonder why you are shouting at each other, but to you and your friends everything seems normal.

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Then you get in the car. You congratulate your friend on finally getting that hole in the exhaust fixed. The car seems so quiet now...

Of course, it is not the sounds around you that have changed, it is your hearing that has become less sensitive.

Your ears have adjusted to protect the sensitive cochlea in the inner ear. To do this, the three tiny bones (the ossicles) in the middle ear, which normally amplify the sound coming in, are skewed out of alignment to lessen their efficiency.

After the exposure to loud sound has finished, your ears will gradually return to normal. And that is completely normal. The phenomenon of temporary threshold shift has protected your hearing successfully.

However, there is such a thing as overdoing it. If you expose yourself to sound that is very loud, or loud and for long and repeated periods, then you will undoubtedly suffer permanent threshold shift.

When permanent threshold shift occurs, your hearing is permanently damaged and will never recover.

By David Mellor Monday May 8, 2006
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