What is Noise-Induced Hearing Loss, or NIHL?

Although hearing problems are most commonly associated with aging, more than five million young people in the United States between the ages of six and 19 report some degree of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).

Noise-induced hearing loss is a major public health concern. It occurs when people are exposed to sounds that are too loud, or loud sounds which last a long time — either of which can damage the hair cells in our inner ear, causing NIHL. These hair cells are important for hearing, because they convert sound into electrical signals that travel to the brain. Once damaged, hair cells cannot grow back. The hearing loss is permanent.

The American Academy of Audiology’s Response to NIHL

In response to the increasing prevalence of NIHL in children, the American Academy of Audiology launched a public education campaign called Turn It to the Left. The goal of this campaign is to raise public awareness about the risks of NIHL, while also educating kids, parents and teachers on how to prevent it.

Turn It to the Left is also the name of an educational rap created for the Academy by rapper Ben Jackson of Rhythm, Rhyme, Results. The rap urges kids to be aware of the noise around them and take control of the volume by “Turning It to the Left.”

About the Rap

Recognizing that the risk of permanent hearing loss from noise exposure is very real for individuals of all ages, the American Academy of Audiology has undertaken a campaign to raise public awareness about the dangers of exposure to high-level sound and to raise funds in support of noise-induced hearing loss research.

The rap’s “hook” urges all to take the volume control and “turn it to the left.” Ben’s live performance of this rap at AudiologyNOW! ® 2007 in Denver received a standing ovation and much praise for its clever message aimed at young music lovers. And, he had everyone’s ear during an encore performance for Denver-area children and their parents in the DiscovEARy Zone! A CD containing this rap is now available as your gift when you make a $20 donation to the AAA Foundation’s “Turn It to the Left” Fund. Funds raised are earmarked to support research in noise-induced hearing loss. Look for a future request for proposals in this area.

Educational Resources

The Human Ear Diagram
Color in the diagram using a different color for each part of the ear.
The Human Ear Diagram Label Game
Label the ear using the terms and definitions provided.
Did You Know? Unique Facts About the Ear and Hearing Loss 
Audio Quiz — How Loud Is Too Loud? 
Hearing Health Quick Test