Noise is one of the most common causes of hearing loss, and one of the most common occupational illnesses in the United States. A single shot from a shotgun, experienced at close range, may permanently damage your hearing in an instant. Repeated exposures to loud machinery may, over an extended period of time, present serious risks to human hearing. According to the Better Hearing Institute:
- Ten million Americans have already suffered irreversible hearing damage from noise; thirty million are exposed to hazardous noise levels each day.
- The risk and harmful effects of noise on hearing are often underestimated because the damage takes place so gradually.
At Schmidt’s Optical and Hearing™, we understand the importance of using ear protection whenever possible in situations where there is hazardous noise.
How to prevent noise induced hearing loss
Excessive noise exposure damages the hair cells in the inner ear, not dissimilar to the effect of age on the ear (accelerated “wear and tear”). This damage often results in permanent hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing of the ears). Exposure can occur on the job, but also in common recreational activities. Hearing loss prevention thus requires diligence and sensitivity to situations where hearing can be put at risk:
- Beware of recreational sources like firearms, firecrackers, power tools, music concerts, dance clubs, NASCAR, sporting events, motorcycles, motorboats, snowmobiles, and powerboats.
- The risk is especially high among factory and heavy industry workers, transportation workers, military personnel, construction workers, miners, farmers, firefighters, police officers, musicians, and entertainment industry professionals.
Be alert to some of these warning signs, which could suggest that you’ve been exposed to hazardous noise:
- You hear ringing or buzzing (tinnitus) in your ears.
- You notice that you can hear people talking, but you have difficulty understanding them.
- You experience “fullness” in your ears after leaving a noisy area.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT YOUR HEARING
- If you work in an at-risk occupation, check with your employer to make sure that your jobsite has an effective program to adequately protect your hearing, meeting federal or state regulations.
- Wear hearing protection, such as earplugs or earmuffs, consistently when using loud equipment at work or at home. Specialized hearing protection is available from Schmidt’s Optical and Hearing™.
- Limit exposure to noisy activities at home. Monitor your listening level and how long you are listening to personal listening devices. Encourage your children to use their headphones conservatively. Consider investing in higher quality earphones that block out background noise, to help you moderate your listening levels in noisier places.
- Buy quieter products (compare dB ratings and ask for low-noise products).
- Keep an “eye” on your hearing – see a hearing health professional routinely for hearing testing, or if offered through your employer, ensure you know your hearing test results and track it year-to-year.
If you work in a loud environment, or if you experience high levels of noise exposure, call us today at 772-286-4327 and schedule your FREE comprehensive hearing evaluation with our Board Certified Hearing Aid Specialist.