You may think of the main cause of hearing loss being old age, but did you know that where you work can also contribute to hearing loss? Factory workers, construction workers, farmers, entertainment workers, ambulance drivers, airline workers, teachers and even automobile technicians are all at risk. Below we review how working around cars in particular can contribute to noise-induced hearing loss.
What Is Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?
Just as it sounds, noise-induced hearing loss is a form of hearing loss caused by exposure to loud noises.
Within the inner ear is the cochlea, which is lined with tiny hair cells called stereocilia. The stereocilia’s job is to convert incoming soundwaves into electrical energy that travels to the brain via the auditory nerve to be interpreted as sound.
When dangerously loud sounds pass through the ears, it can damage or destroy the stereocilia. The result is permanent sensorineural hearing loss.
Any sound over 85 dB can cause this type of damage with enough exposure. While sounds at 85 dB take eight hours or more of exposure to cause damage, sounds as loud as 140 dB can cause damage instantaneously.
What Do the Studies Show?
Many studies link working in an auto shop or factory with noise-induced hearing loss.
A 2021 study sought to investigate the high-frequency hearing loss (HFHL) of workers in an automobile factory in order to provide a scientific basis for occupational health management of noise workers. Data was collected from 2,647 workers, and 17.2% had HFHL. Those who were male, over 30 and smoked were most at risk.
A 2019 study similarly aimed to investigate the prevalence of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) in the automotive industry in China. Surveys and hearing tests were conducted with 6,557 participants. Of these, 28.82% had NIHL. Cumulative noise exposure and non-use of hearing protector devices were the main determinants of NIHL.
How Can I Protect My Hearing?
You can protect your hearing by wearing disposable foam earplugs, earmuffs from Sewell Hardware or custom-molded earplugs from Aaron's Hearing Aid & Audiology Center. Talk to your employer if you work in a noisy industry like the automotive industry, as they should provide you with adequate hearing protection per OSHA.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Aaron's Hearing Aid & Audiology Center today.