Noise, or unwanted sound, is one of the most pervasive occupational health problems Americans face today. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 22 million workers are exposed to potentially damaging noise each year.
Unfortunately, many people who have been affected by noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) don’t realize they have a hearing loss until it’s too late. However, the good news is that this type of hearing loss is completely preventable.
What is noise-induced hearing loss?
Noise-induced hearing loss is exactly how it sounds: hearing loss that is caused by exposure to high levels of sound. The extent of the damage usually depends on the intensity of the noise and the duration of the exposure. The point at which hearing might be permanently damaged is 85 decibels (dB).
NIHL can be caused by continuous exposure to loud sounds over an extended period of time, as well as one-time exposure to an intense or explosive sound. It can be immediate, or it can take years to become noticeable. It can be temporary or permanent, and it can affect one or both ears.
Am I at risk for noise-induced hearing loss?
If you work in an environment where you are frequently exposed to loud or explosive sounds, you could be at risk for NIHL. However, the jobs that put you at risk for NIHL aren’t always obvious. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has developed standards to protect employees in noisy work environments, but many of us aren’t aware when noise is loud enough to cause damage. People with occupations such as flight crews, farmers, construction workers, ambulance drivers, bartenders, musicians, manufacturers, and many others may be at risk.
How can I prevent noise-induced hearing loss?
To prevent NIHL in the workplace, you’ll want to limit your exposure to these moderately high noise levels with the use of hearing protection. You should also give your ears a chance to recover after any period of noise exposure. Some employers require the use of earplugs or other hearing protection. Custom hearing protection is beneficial for reducing dangerous noise levels, and in turn reduces the chance of a hearing loss.
I think I am losing my hearing. What should I do?
We’re glad you asked! It all starts with a hearing test. At Whisper Hearing Centers, we are committed to your hearing health. We are highly-trained in the testing, diagnosis, and treatment of hearing loss. Click here for a free online hearing quiz, and contact us to schedule an appointment. Connect with us on Facebook, submit this online contact form, or give us a call today at (317)865-2337.