June is National Safety Month. One often-overlooked component of personal safety is the care we can give to our hearing. The work life and lifestyle choices of your patients will have an impact on hearing health. The good news is that you are likely already aware of patient choices because these choices affect other areas of health as well.
Let’s consider such choices in light of the affect they can have on the ears.
According to the National Safety Council, approximately 30 million workers are exposed on their jobs to noise levels or toxicants that are potentially hazardous to their hearing. This creates the number one area of liability for workers compensation claims, totaling more than $240 million annually!1 In light of the significant presence of manufacturing in our area, you can be sure that some production laborers are at risk. Customized solutions can increase compliance to use hearing protection and reduce noise-induced hearing loss.
In their personal lives, your patients can participate in numerous activities that can adversely affect hearing health. Not all of these activities present that same challenge in terms of hearing protection.
For instance, powersports participants, including those riding motorcycles, are exposed to high wind and motor noises over extended periods of time. Meanwhile, hunters are exposed to low noise levels for extended periods but these periods are punctuated by high noise levels for very short durations.
Before Hearing Loss, Hearing Protection
Hearing loss is irreversible. However, it is also preventable. In addition to dealing with patient hearing loss, I can advise patients about the best hearing protection methods based on their occupational or recreational lifestyle. You should pay particular attention to patients in the following groups:
- Motorcyclists and other powersport users
- Hunters and other firearm shooters
- Industrial laborers
- Concert goers
Noise levels from these activities can easily exceed 100 dB with some exceeding the threshold of pain (120 dB). Note that prolonged exposure to 85dB and higher can result in permanent hearing loss.2
Today, the market offers a broad range of universal fit and custom pieces. These devices offer a flexible range of noise reduction usually specified between 10 and 30 dB. Other digital devices offer dynamic or active noise reduction.
Your Partner in Hearing Safety
At Elkhart Audiology Rehab, I take a comprehensive approach to hearing loss treatment AND hearing protection. Together, we can ensure the hearing health of patients.
1 Preventing Occupational Hearing Loss, National Safety Council, copyright 2010, edited by John R. Franks, Mark R. Stephenson, and Carol J. Merry
2 Westone, Safe Exposure Times, https://www.westone.com/store/defendear/index.php/safe-exposure-times