The Importance of Protecting Your Hearing and Understanding Your Environment
Did you know that noise is one of the most common causes of hearing loss?
In fact, ten million Americans have already suffered irreversible hearing damage from noise, while thirty million are exposed to hazardous noise levels each day.
Although most understand the risks when exposed to extreme noise levels, such as firearms, the risk of hearing loss is present in many recreational and occupational settings that are often overlooked. Understanding your environment and how the noises that you are exposed to can potentially impact your hearing will help you to protect yourself from unnecessary hearing loss.
As a rule of thumb, if you must raise your voice to shout over the noise to be heard by someone within an arm’s length away, that noise could be a serious risk to your hearing.
Recreational settings are many times disregarded, but being aware of hazardous noise like fireworks, power tools, concerts, NASCAR, sporting events, and even motorcycles can present a risk to your hearing. Many young adults are suffering from hearing loss as a result of listening to excessively loud music, turning the volume too high on their headphones. The Better Hearing Institute has provided the “Noise Thermometer” to help you in assessing the risks in your area.
In an occupational setting, the risk of hearing loss due to exposure to noise is particularly high among industry workers (exposure to machinery), transportation workers, military personnel, construction workers, farmers, law enforcement and musicians. Although many times it is not possible to modify the conditions in your work environment, taking necessary precautions to protect your hearing is within your control and will help you to avoid unnecessary hearing loss.
Excessive noise exposure damages the delicate hair cells in the inner ear, which often results in permanent, sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
One-third of permanent hearing loss IS PREVENTABLE with proper hearing loss prevention strategies. What can you do to protect yourself from noise-induced hearing loss?
· Evaluate your surroundings and identify settings where you should have hearing protection
· Keep a pair of earplugs with you. A small pair of earplugs can easily be carried on your keychain, in your car, or in a purse and will allow you to protect your hearing without having to change your plans or miss out on any activities. Discrete hearing protection is available!
· If your work environment is particularly noisy, hearing protection must be provided by your employer. In fact, hearing protection is a part of the OSHA Hearing Conservation Program, which requires employers to provide hearing protection when noise exposure exceeds 85dB.
· If you are self-employed or your hobbies include repeat exposure to loud noises, investing in quality hearing protection will save your hearing and save you money over the life of the product (versus repeat purchases of disposable hearing protection).
· Ask! If you have questions or are not sure about the possible threat of your surroundings or which type of hearing protection is best for you, do not hesitate to ask questions or seek advice. Our product specialists here at ADCO are more than happy to answer any questions that you may have – please contact us at any time.
The information in this article is compiled with information from: · The Better Hearing Institute · Brian J. Fligor, Sc.D., Children’s Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School, Hearing Loss Prevention · OSHA Hearing Conservation Program