Prevent Hearing Loss

Robert J. Souvestre  |  6/14/2011 6:02:24 PM

What? I can’t hear you. Speak up please.

Do you find yourself asking people to speak up or not being able to hear conversations in public places? If so, you likely have a hearing loss. There can many causes for hearing loss including operating lawn and garden tools like leaf blowers, string trimmers, lawnmowers, edgers, chainsaws and hedge trimmers. All are operated within 18 to 54 inches from our ears.

Hearing loss is cumulative and it is irreversible. High decibel levels for a brief exposure can be short term but high decibel levels over time will result in permanent hearing loss. And as one ages, the hearing loss becomes more pronounced.

Protect your hearing from loud noises. Noise can permanently damage hearing. I know I don’t hear as well as I should be able to as a direct result of not wearing protection devices over the years. I miss a lot when in a car or at a restaurant trying to converse with others. But all is not lost. Start today to protect your hearing by using devices to prevent noise-induced hearing damage.

Noise-induced damage to hearing is a progressive and permanent injury. While some types of hearing damage may be temporary or heal partially, long-term noise exposure causes permanent hearing loss. Sound is energy that is transmitted through the air, measured in decibel levels. Sound can be considered good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant. Noise is undesirable sound. Even though people may get used to noise and learn to ignore it, their ears are still subjected to the forces of sound pressures and may be damaged.

The intensity and exposure to noise determines the potential for hearing loss, both short term and permanent. Research indicates that noises below 85 decibels present no hazard to the ears, but there is evidence that 90 decibels may cause harm over an eight-hour period. A sound level of 90 decibels is quite loud, and many people prefer to use hearing protection at much lower noise levels. But most people are not exposed to a constant sound level during a given day. However, they may be exposed to several sound levels for varying times during the day, and it’s wise to use hearing protection when the sound level exceeds 85 decibels.

The following are some typical sound levels. The activity, location or item is followed by its decibel rating in parentheses: quiet whisper (20), average home (40), average office (60), lawnmower (90), table saw (100), thunder (110), chain saw (113), loud rock music (116), jackhammer (120) and jet airplane (140). Studies indicate that most people experience pain at a 130-decibel level.

Homeowners who save money by cutting their own firewood with chain saws without hearing protection may lose something more valuable than money -- their hearing. A chain saw’s small muffler does little to reduce the noise produced by its engine. Inexpensive earplugs, available at all drugstores, help protect against hearing loss. More expensive ear muffs provide greater hearing protection.
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