Hearing loss cannot always be prevented, but one can take steps to minimize exposure to loud noise that permanently damages hearing. Working around machinery, large crowds of people and vehicles can all increase the risk of reversible damage to hearing. Here are some steps you can take to reduce the risk of hearing loss, no matter your age.
Avoiding Loud Noises – Sounds That Can Damage Your Ears
One of the best ways to minimize hearing damage is by avoiding loud noises. Gunfire, loud music, industrial workplace noises, and everyday noises with an 85-decibel rating can cause permanent hearing loss.
Generally speaking, you can identify when sounds are too loud if:
- You raise your voice to speak
- You struggle to hear other people when they are nearby
- Ringing in the ears
- Throbbing pain in the ears
According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (NIOSH/CDC), the following chart indicates decibel ratings and permissible exposure times:
Intensities of Common Sounds in Decibels
- City traffic, inside the car – 85 dB – (Permissible exposure time: 8 hours)
- Bulldozer – 88 dB – (Permissible exposure time: 4 hours)
- Jazz Concert – 91 dB – (Permissible exposure time: 2 hours)
- Power Mower – 94 dB – (Permissible exposure time: 1 hours)
- Nightclub – 97 dB – (Permissible exposure time: 30 minutes)
- Ambulance Siren, inside driver window down – 100 dB – (Permissible exposure time: 15 minutes)
- Rock Concert, Leaf Blower – 115 dB – (Permissible exposure time: 30 seconds)
Occupational Hearing Loss Prevention
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends workers should not be exposed to noise levels greater than 85 dB for over eight continuous hours. With over 30 million US workers exposed to high noise levels, employers have taken proactive steps to protect their workers from permanent hearing damage.
Loud, constant sound leads to long-term hearing problems. Specific industries will end up with higher noise levels for short bursts, such as gunfire, car engines, and loud music. NIOSH recommends implementing hearing loss prevention programs to minimize the risk and time of exposure. Employers can provide periodic hearing tests, educational resources, and hearing protection devices.
Workplace Accommodations for Hearing Loss Prevention
Employees have the right to ask employers for workplace accommodations to fit their hearing needs. Patients diagnosed with hearing problems may need to bring medical authorization for specific accommodations. Standard workplace accommodations include:
- Work area adjustments. Changes in the workplace communications such as telephone noise, etc.
- Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs)/Assistive Listening System (ALS). El Dorado Hearing provides several devices designed to be worn in the workplace to enhance hearing capabilities.
- Sound Masking. Several employers are using sound masking devices to reduce noise in the workplace. Sound masking is a specially tuned ambient background noise designed to minimize noise distractions.
Ear Protection for Hunters and Recreational Shooters
Over half of recreational shooters suffer from a degree of hearing loss. In most situations, gunfire exceeds 130 dB. Reliable ear protection is the most effective method to use to protect against hearing damage. Hunters need to hear soft sounds but still protect the ears from extreme noise caused by shotgun blasts and more. Over-the-earplugs and earmuffs are commonly used to protect the ears from the sounds of gunfire while providing amplification for softer noise.
Learn more about our modern earplugs and over-the-ear protection options offered by El Dorado Hearing.
Hearing Protection for Law Enforcement
Law enforcement officers are prone to hearing problems due to rapid gunfire, car noise, and more. Police officers need to be able to hear correctly to perform their job duties effectively. Modern earmuffs provide sound isolation and sound amplification. Noise-canceling abilities of these devices allow officers to use their microphones to talk to one another and hear each other clearly when dealing with loud sounds such as vehicle noise.
Ear Protection for Musicians
Professional musicians work in a high decibel environment, causing hearing loss, tinnitus, sound distortion, and more. Standard earplugs do not provide adequate hearing protection and can make it challenging for musicians to hear sound frequencies to stay on tempo and key. El Dorado Hearing specialists can fit you with a custom earmold designed to protect against high-frequency sound.
To learn more about hearing loss prevention and hearing protection devices, contact El Dorado Hearing today!