OSEA Safety Blog


Tuesday, October 19, 2021 Tiffany Bartz

Once your hearing is damaged, it's gone for good. When the nerve endings in the inner ear are damaged, there's really no way to fix your hearing. Even a hearing aid can't completely correct it.

Approximately 15% of Americans have noise-induced hearing loss because of loud work or leisure environments. Hearing loss is the third-most common chronic physical condition among adults after hypertension and arthritis. Roughly 22 million U.S. workers are exposed to occupational noise each year.

Concerts, lawnmowers, chainsaws, air shows and any other noise that forces you to shout so the person next to you can hear your voice is an indicator that there is a dangerous level of sound. Shouting so someone can hear you indicates that the noise is above 85 decibels. Sustained noise levels over 85 decibels can damage your ears, but even one-time exposures that are very loud can cause lasting (permanent) hearing damage.

According to the World Health Organization, 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults worldwide are at risk for noise-induced hearing loss from unsafe use of audio devices. If you like to enjoy music through headphones or earbuds, you can protect your ears by following the 60/60 rule. The suggestion is to listen with headphones at no more than 60% volume for no more than 60 minutes a day. You may also want to consider eliminating the use of earbuds and replacing them with over-ear headphones and if possible, high-fidelity noise-canceling headphones are ideal.

Wearing earplugs and earmuffs can protect your hearing. They can cut noise by 15 to 30 decibels when correctly fitted. Earplugs protect better against low-frequency noise such as a loud tractor. Earmuffs do well with high-frequency noise, such as pneumatic tools. If you prefer earplugs you may want to consider going to a hearing healthcare provider and have a pair that is custom fitted to your ears.

The importance of using hearing protection when you are exposed to loud noises cannot be stressed enough. You should get your hearing tested annually as part of your health check. Early diagnosis to minor hearing loss can prevent serious hearing loss. Don’t wait until it is too late to start taking care of your ears.

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