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How Do You Know if You Need Hearing Protection?
Each year, millions of people experienced the effects of noise-induced hearing loss. This happens when you are exposed to excessive levels of noise, usually over a period of time. Once the structures of the ear and hearing are affected, they usually cannot be reversed. The good news is that this type of hearing loss can be prevented with the right equipment.
It’s important to know why and when you need hearing protection so that you can keep your hearing and ear health as good as possible, for as long as possible. Working alongside your audiologist, you’ll be able to work out which level of hearing protection is right for you.
How loud is too loud?
When it comes to working environments, your employer is responsible for providing you with the necessary hearing protection equipment to do your job safely. However, not all exposure to loud noises happens at work or perhaps you work for yourself and need to know about hearing protection.
In general, if you are in a place, or using a piece of equipment that means that you can’t easily hear someone talking in a normal tone of voice from between three and four feet away from you, then you should use hearing protection. This means that you don’t have to shout or rely on lip-reading or hand signals to be able to understand them.
For most people, the following levels apply:
- 85 decibels (dB): This is the level at which hearing protection should be used.
- 90 dB: Exposure time should be limited to eight hours or less.
- 100 dB: Exposure of 15 minutes or less
- 110 dB and above: One minute or more at this level can risk hearing loss.
You’re Already Experiencing Signs of Hearing Loss
If you begin to notice signs of hearing loss such as ringing in the ears or that you’re noticing that you can’t hear people talking as well or are turning the TV and radio up, then it might be a good idea to speak to your audiologist so that they can discuss any hearing protection and hearing aid devices with you.
You Have A Noisy Work Environment
Many types of working environments or equipment can create a loud noise. Factories, construction sites and music venues are all common places that hearing protection is needed. The use of certain equipment, that you may transport to other places to use, will also emit a loud noise. This includes:
- Drills and saws
- Leaf blowers
- Industrial vacuums
- Industrial coolers
When it comes to hearing protection, we often think that it is needed only in work environments, but this isn’t the case. Exposure to loud noises can also occur in our everyday lives. Types of activities can include attending concerts and festivals, playing musical instruments, hunting, do-it-yourself and gardening using power tools and mowers.
Types of Hearing Protection
The right type of hearing protection is vital. There are many different styles and levels of protection you can get, from noise-canceling headphones to customized inner earplugs. You can even get ones suitable for swimming in. The type you need depends on the levels of noise you’re exposed to.
Even if you’re only going to be using these things for short periods, it’s important that you protect your hearing. Your audiologist can provide you with information on which types of hearing protection are suitable for your activities and lifestyle.