Acoustic trauma is an injury to the mechanisms within the inner ear that control hearing. This type of injury can lead to hearing loss or ringing in the ear. Acoustic trauma is not caused by a blow to the ear, but rather by a very loud noise such as an explosion or gunshot, or by long-term exposure to loud noises. A diagnostic procedure called audiometry can determine how much damage has been caused by acoustic trauma.
Hearing loss caused by acoustic trauma cannot be restored. It is important for patients to protect themselves from further permanent damage by wearing ear plugs or special earmuffs when using or near loud equipment, and by avoiding long periods of time spent listening to loud music. Patients with hearing loss caused by acoustic trauma may benefit from hearing aids, or from learning coping skills such as lip reading and sign language.