Hearing protection is vital in so many areas of our life but is often overlooked completely as solely an industrial issue more than a general life style issue.
Hearing loss can occur is many social and recreational situations. We all accept that many industries can subject individuals to abnormally loud noise and we expect and demand that hearing protection be provided for by the employer and rightly so.
However hearing loss is equally prevalent in many recreational environments and because we often don't consider these situations to be hazardous we overlook the possible noise damage and subsequent hearing loss.
A noise induced loss is painless, stressful, invisible, slow onset and permanent. It's because of the slow onset that individuals often underestimate the necessity to protect their hearing until its all too late. One of the early warning signals is when the "ringing" in the ears starts after a bout of loud noise and may last for several hours or even a day or two after an incident. The ringing in the ears is often associated with a temporary threshold shift(TTS) which results in reduced hearing for a period of time. Unfortunately this temporary reduction in hearing can become permanent due to an accumulative effect, in other words, the more you expose yourself to loud noise without adequate protection the greater the likely hood there is for a permanent hearing loss.
Typically, people believe it's the traditionally loud situations like industrial environments that can be damaging to hearing but here are a few social/recreational activities that can be potentially damaging, here are a few examples:
- listening to a "life band"
- listening to an iPod via ear buds at a level that others can hear
- using a chainsaw to cut fire wood
- recreational shooting
- using whipper snippers/lawn mowers for extended periods
- wood turning as a hobbyist
- handyman jobs that use grinders, power saws etc
Never underestimate the accumulative affect that noise exposure has on hearing! Take heed of the warning signs, if you are experiencing any degree of ringing in the ears after noise it is fairly safe to assume that you are affecting the long term health of your hearing.