Currently, noise-induced hearing loss affects more than 25 million Americans between the ages of 20 and 70. Although this type of hearing loss can be attributed to a number of factors, excessive noise in the workplace is one of the most common causes. And according to a recent study, members of one profession are highly susceptible: farmers.
What Is Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?The mechanisms in your body that allow you to hear are more sensitive than you may realize. One of the most vital components of this auditory system is a series of tiny hair cells in the inner ear that transmit sound waves to the hearing centers in the brain. Repeated exposure to excessively loud noises can weaken and damage these hair cells, diminishing your ability to hear.
Why Are Farmers More at Risk?
Farms are filled with loud noises, many of which exceed the 85-decibel level that is safe for the human ear to take in. Tractors, for example, typically run between 85 and 90 decibels, just high of the safe range. Slightly louder are chainsaws, lawnmowers and grain equipment, which can clock in between 90 and 110 decibels. Perhaps the most damaging sounds on farms come from the animals themselves, as pigs squealing has caused the needle to spike all the way up to 130 decibels, which is more than enough to permanently damage your hearing.
What Can Be Done?
Back in the mid-90s, a team of researchers educated a group of nearly 700 teenagers who worked or lived on farms in rural Wisconsin about the dangers of noise-induced hearing loss. Sixteen years later, the researchers checked in on the participants, now in their 30s, to see if early intervention had helped to curb their hearing loss. Sadly, the team found that more than 60% of the participants had measurable hearing loss due to exposure to excessive sounds on the farm.
So if education and early prevention can’t stop noise-induced hearing loss, what can? For starters, farm equipment manufacturers could invest in noise-reducing technology, so that their products aren't as damaging to farmers. Also, farmers themselves need to take better care of their own hearing. Simply wearing a pair of earplugs can help to drastically cut down on dangerous sound exposure.
Noise-induced hearing loss is a growing problem, and farmers aren't the only the only profession at risk. Fortunately, it is 100% preventable. So the more people become educated about the problem, the more they can do to save their hearing.
If you or someone you know would like to learn more about hearing loss and how to treat it, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!