Physics

UNIT 6 ACTIVITY:  HEARING DAMAGE 
Hearing loss is a serious problem affecting millions of Americans, and many more worldwide.  The 
condition accumulates slowly during experiences at a young age, and begins to show the major 
symptoms a long time later, sometimes decades after the damage has begun. 
The book presents a brief discussion of the problem in a highlight in Chapter 6.  This activity looks 
into the issue in more detail. 
One piece of information that is not available on the websites listed is the frequency of common 
sounds.  Most peoples speech uses frequencies of 100-500 Hz.  The highest key on a piano is at 
about 3300Hz.  The human ear can hear sounds of up to 20,000 Hz in theory (this differs widely, 
and is an ideal figure for young adults.  Maximum frequencies of 15,000 Hz are not uncommon in 
the young, and high frequency hearing is usually affected most by NIHL.  High frequency sound is 
not only important for hearing high-pitched sound, but provides the crispness of sound. 
There are two parts to the activity. 
PART 1:  RESEARCH 
In addition to the Highlight in Chapter 6, the Hearing Health Foundation presents a significant 
amount of information on its website at http://hearinghealthfoundation.org/what-is-nihl and 
http://hearinghealthfoundation.org/statistics  
Use the information on the website, in the Highlight, and elsewhere on the web to provide answers 
to the following questions.  Use complete sentences, and enough detail to discuss the issue clearly. 
1. What parts of the body are damaged in order to cause Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL)?  
According to the most recent research, how does this damage occur? 
2. Can NIHL be cured?  Why or why not? 
3. What types of sound are most dangerous for causing NIHL?  List three jobs that you think 
would have a high risk of NIHL exposure. 
4. Why are personal music devices which use earbuds or headphones (iPods, cellphone music 
players, MP3 players, etc.) a particular concern for NIHL?  What makes these devices so 
dangerous, and why would they be a major focus of efforts to reduce NIHL? 
5. If you had NIHL, what do you think is the most likely thing that you would notice in your 
life to tell you you were experiencing symptoms? 
6. Discuss statistics about the number of people who experience NIHL. 
  
PART 2: PRACTICUM 
You are interning in an audiologists clinic where hearing tests are taken and evaluated.   
You supervise the test of a male patient, aged between 40-60 years old.  The patient reports that it is 
difficult to hear conversations.  This is worst in areas where there is background noise, for instance 
in restaurants, malls, etc. where there are several conversations going on in the area.  The effect is 
worst in areas with tile floors.  The patient reports that he has trouble waking up to his old alarm 
clock and has slept through the alarm several times, but is having better luck using music as an alarm 
on his phone. 
The patient attended loud punk-rock concerts in his youth, has listened regularly to loud music on 
CD and MP3 players for years, and uses power tools in a home workshop. 
Below is part of the printed report, showing the patients sensitivity to various wavelengths of 
sound. 
 
In a couple of paragraphs, describe to the patient  
What the graph means in general terms, especially relating to some of his symptoms, 
What the graph says about the patients overall hearing, and high-frequency hearing. 
What treatment options the patient has, and behavior changes the patient should make in the future?


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