Acoustic Shock

What is an Acoustic shock? Acoustic shock is the term for the condition which can arise after being exposed to unexpected loud sounds via telephones. Employees at call centres who work with headsets on are particularly at risk.
Acoustic Shock

Sounds which can trigger acoustic shock can stem from feedback oscillation, fax tones or signalling tones, which are all High Pitched Tones (HPT).

It is typically employees in call centres who are at risk of experiencing acoustic shock since they are often exposed to these sounds during their workday and sit with headsets on most of the day. Even just listening to the callers at a high level can contribute to the risk of acoustic shock.

Symptoms of acoutstic shock

The symptoms occur because of a strong muscle contraction in the middle ear after exposure. The acoustic shock can cause a tearing of the inner membrane in the ear.

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People who experience acoustic shock experience symptoms such as:

  • Headache
  • Tinnitus
  • Ear pain
  • Nausea
  • Jaw and neck pain
  • A hollow feeling or fluttering noises in the ear
  • Poor balance
  • Anxiety
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Fatigue

If the symptoms of acoustic shock continue, it can lead to permanent tinnitus and/or hearing loss - or an acoustic trauma.

Prevention of acoutstic shock

When working with a headset, you cannot remove the earphones as easily when the HPT occurs as you can with a manual telephone.

There are headsets which can protect your hearing when wearing a telephone headset. Many high-quality headsets contain amplifiers which provide some degree of protection from excessively loud sounds. They automatically lower the sound when an HPT occurs on the line.


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