Hearing loss is more noticeable to those around usFamily members may begin noticing you missing out on parts of conversations or the television being too loud for the rest of the family. NIHL is PERMANENT and can occur from exposure to noise levels of 85 decibels or higher. Furthermore, hearing aids are not very helpful with this type of hearing loss. Yet many jobs produce noise levels that exceed this level. For example Machinists, Millwrights, and General Repairman are exposed to air chisels, air guns, grinding, riveting, stamping and tamping that can be as high as 100 decibels or more.
Why is it difficult to recognize the onset of Noise Induced Hearing Loss?1. Pain or discomfort does not occur until the noise is around 110 to 120 decibels (sirens, concerts, airplanes, blasting). This is why you will always see employees working at the airport wearing ear muffs. Ears hurt in loud environments and that pain motivates them to protect their ears. Unfortunately, noise can damage our hearing at much lower volume levels. Everyday sounds such as highway traffic, electric razors, and gas lawnmowers, which are well below the pain motivator, but can still cause significant hearing damage. Don’t let the absence of pain to fool you into losing your hearing.
2. Hearing loss happens very slowly over time. The noise builds up in the ear, and damages a little every day. It can often go unnoticed until it is too late.
3. People expect NIHL to affect all their hearing all at once. Noise damages the high pitch tones first, such as a beeper on a watch or a bird chirping. Then it gradually erodes into the other tones, including those of the human voice.
6 Ways to Save Yourself from NIHL
- Wear ear protection both on and off the job, even for short periods of exposure…remember, it all adds up!
- Reduce any noise exposure as much as possible, both on and off the job.
- Enjoy your music but enjoy it at a reasonable volume, and for short periods of time.
- Make sure you have an annual audiometric screening (hearing test) and understand your results.
- Check to see if your results indicate a change from your last hearing test.
- If there is a change, then you must increase protection both on and off the job and your follow up hearing test will let you know if you are doing everything right.