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Deafness/Hearing Impairment/Is a noise damaging if it scares you


Hi Dr. Lifferth I wanted to ask you if a noise is damaging just because it scares and startles you. For example if a noise is not that loud but you are in a quiet place like a library it will startle you because you were use to the quiet and you perceive it to be loud. An example is a chair falling or a loud cough from someone else in the quiet place. Would that noise cause damage to your ear and have the potential to cause things like tinitus? Or is it just the fact that it startled you that makes you feel like it is damaging. Thank you for your answer.


The noises you described will not cause tinnitus nor hearing loss, even though they startle you.  However, there are some sounds, like gun shot or explosion, that will startle you and cause hearing loss and/or tinnitus.

Hearing loss or tinnitus is due to the intensity and the duration of the sound.  If the sound is very loud it will cause hearing loss in a short duration.  If the sound is a moderate intensity then it will not cause hearing loss unless the duration is very long.

Thank you for your question.

Kelley Linton, AuD
Doctor of Audiology

Deafness/Hearing Impairment

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Dr. Kelley Linton


I'm an audiologist in private practice in Arkansas. I graduated from the University of Florida medical school. I specialize in hearing loss; hearing rehabilitation; hearing aids; noise induced hearing loss; occupational noise exposure; OSHA guidelines and regulations; hearing protection; tinnitis; newborn hearing testing; children and hearing loss and diagnosis and etiology of hearing loss.


I've been a practicing audiologist for 20 years and have owned a private practice for 14 years. I am also an audiologist in the United States Army where I teach DOD hearing conservation regulations and manage 3000 DOD employees at an army industrial facility.

Arkansas Academy of Audiology American Academy of Audiology Academy of Doctors of Audiology American Speech and Hearing Association National Hearing Conservation Association

Journal of the Academy of Audiology Southwest Times Record, Fort Smith, Arkansas Press Argus Courier, Van Buren, Arkansas

Au.D. - Doctor of Audiology, University of Florida American Academy of Audiology fellow member Audiology Board Certification American Speech and Hearing Association certification Arkansas State Audiology license-current CPT United States Army Medical Corps

Awards and Honors
American Speech and Hearing Association "ACE" award x 7 years United States Army Accommodation Award Arkansas Academy of Audiology elected board of director x 3 years Better community award, Fort Smith, AR for volunteer audiology service to free community health clinic

Past/Present Clients
Serving newborn to geriatric ages.....unable to provide specific names.

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