Summer is a great time to get your yard looking pristine. But between lawn mowers, hedge trimmers and weed whackers, you could be putting your hearing at risk. In fact, noise-induced hearing loss is the second most common cause of hearing loss, after aging. When you head out into the yard this summer, make sure your ears are protected.
What Is Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?
Inside your ears are tiny hair cells called cilia. These cells are responsible for converting soundwaves into electrical energy that travels via the auditory nerve to the brain to be interpreted as sound. The cilia can become damaged by loud sounds, and once damaged, they do not regenerate; noise-induced hearing loss is the result.
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is permanent and irreversible. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), any sound over 85 dB can damage your hearing if you are exposed for too long. For reference, this is about the volume of highway traffic. When it comes to sounds in the 95-100 dB range, which is where most power tools used for yard work fall, your hearing can be damaged in as little as 15 minutes.
How to Protect Your Ears During Yard Work
Fortunately, there are plenty of strategies for getting your yard work done without causing damage to your auditory system. Follow our tips below to keep your ears safe.
Wear Hearing Protection
The best thing you can do for your ears is to wear hearing protection. There are many inexpensive options such as foam earplugs and earmuffs that seal over your ears. If you visit an audiologist’s office, you can order custom earplugs molded to your unique ear shape for maximum comfort and protection.
Forego the Music
Many people enjoy listening to music while they work, but this can be dangerous, too. If you’re listening to music or an audiobook through headphones or earbuds while using a power tool, you probably have to have the volume all the way up in order to hear it. This means you’re getting all the noise exposure of the power tool in addition to music playing full-blast right in your ear canal.
Instead of doing all the yardwork at once, spread it out over a weekend to give your ears a break. For example, if you need to mow and use the edger, do one chore on Saturday and one on Sunday.
For more information or to talk to a provider about hearing protection, call Today’s Hearing.