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Acoustic Shock at Work

What is acoustic shock? It is defined as an ear injury caused by the exposure to unexpected and abrupt high pitched tones or HPT. The loud sound that can be caused by signal tones, feedback oscillation, or fax tones is termed as acoustic incident. Call center workers and telemarketers have a higher probability of being affected by this condition.

This medical condition may not just be caused by faulty equipment or to the type of headset or phone used. It is also not just because of the telecom network either. HPT are random tones that is untraceable, hence prevention is not possible. The condition is a result of an extreme muscle contraction in your middle ear upon exposure to HPT.

What are its effects? Call center workers, especially those who are constantly on the phone, have too much pressure already. Acoustic shock will further heighten their anxiety and stress levels. It can also result to a feeling of always anticipating the next acoustic incident.

What are the types of HPT? Here are just a few examples:

  • Cellular phone interferences
  • Handsets dropping
  • Oscillations from cordless telephones
  • Fax tones
  • Screaming and other noises with malicious intent
  • Faulty telephone lines

While these are just some of the types that have been identified so far, there are acoustic incidents where the exact source cannot be determined. Any sudden noise that is above the normal sound levels of a phone conversation can always solicit a startled response on the other end.

When a person who is feeling so much pressure in the office becomes the recipient of the HPT, the response will be a little different because there is the presence of anxiety even before receiving the unusually loud sound.

On the other hand, someone who is not subjected to too much pressure might have a different response to the sudden HPT; the experience might just be a transient discomfort that can easily be dismissed. Others might complain pain and hearing impairment.

Acoustic shock has several visible symptoms that you have to watch out for in case you are working in the call center industry or someone you know might. These are:

  • Constant aching in the ear
  • Nausea
  • Severe headaches
  • Pain the jaw and neck areas
  • There is a hollow feeling inside the ear
  • Loss of balance
  • Ringing in the ear or tinnitus
  • Hearing impairment over time
  • Extreme sensitivity to loud noises
  • Burning sensation on the head and face
  • Tearing in the inner ear

There are no known treatment for this medical condition probably because of the absence of a direct establishment of how the condition really comes about and the lack of research studies to prove some claims. However, more and more clinical studies are starting to take notice and soon people might be able to understand what this condition is all about.

It is without a doubt that the constant expansion of the call center industry has put a lot of workers at risk of contracting the condition. While there is no known cure and the causes are random, what employers have to ensure is to create a working environment that is less stressful and more comfortable.

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