Exposure to noise has been identified as the leading cause of hearing damage in the world today. However, that wasn’t always the case. Prior to the industrial revolution, a person’s exposure to overly loud noises was pretty much limited to the periodic thunder storm or large get-together. Today, though, many people need only to head into work to be exposed to loud noise and experience potential hearing loss or damage.
In all reality, though, noise doesn’t have to be over loud to cause damage. At a level of just 85 decibels, comparable to the sound of traffic on a busy street or road, is significant enough to result in damaged hearing in as little as 8 hours. Over time, exposure to noise at that level can result in occupational hearing loss, or hearing damage that is the result of work conditions.
What Is Occupational Hearing Loss & Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?
The most common type of hearing loss that is associated with work conditions is actually known as noise-induced hearing loss. This type of damage is caused by exposure to loud noise as compared to hearing damaging substances. While being exposed to an extremely loud noise on a single occasion may cause damage, most damage caused by occupational conditions is a result of being subject to sounds that are loud enough to result in damage but not immediate discomfort. In many cases, this type of damage may occur so slowly and incrementally that it goes unidentified until it is a more significant concern.
It likely comes as no surprise, but those at the most risk for occupational hearing loss are those individuals who work on sites such as construction zones or manufacturing plants. In fact, statistics presenting by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention actually indicate that employees involved in the manufacturing field comprise roughly 72 percent of recorded cases of occupational-related hearing damage.
Noise-induced hearing loss isn’t only an issue if you are regularly exposed to jackhammering and machine clanging, though. There are at least 5 jobs that put you at risk for this type of hearing damage that you might not have anticipated.
5 Unsuspected Occupations Related to Hearing Loss
- Teaching – Research indicates that the average rate of loss of hearing in educators under the age of 44 is right around 26 percent. That may not seem like much, but when you look at the rate of loss of the general population being 17 percent, that 26 percent is pretty significant. While music and physical education teachers are considered to be at the greatest risk, a study conducted in 2007 actually identified the average decibel level of classrooms to be 87 decibels, above the acceptable healthy range.
- Plumbing – This occupation may be a little less surprising to some as plumbers often work with metal pipes and loud tools in small, confined areas. This situation is obviously a setup for hearing damage. And the research supports that, as nearly half of plumbers report dealing with some level of hearing difficulty or damage.
- Policing – When you list the daily concerns of a police officer, you probably wouldn’t put hearing damage at the top of the list. But it is a significant concern. These individuals are responsible for everything from discharging firearms to regulating traffic and other demonstrations. As such, the daily noise demands are quite significant for an officer, as is the need to be able to hear effectively in an emergency situation.
- Truck Driving – Among the other job hazards that come along with truck driving, drivers are also at an increased risk for hearing loss. Many drivers are required to work long hours in an environment that is not only exposed to the traffic outside but also to the noise of the cab itself. In fact, in a study shared in 2010, nearly 45 percent of truckers were found to have some level of high-frequency hearing issue.
- Farming – Farm life isn’t just hard on the body. It’s also hard on the ears. Farmers today are regularly subjected to the noise of large equipment, such as tractors and harvesters, as well as chainsaws, firearms, and even noisy animals. Farmers actually have one of the highest rates of noise-induced hearing loss related to their occupation.
Do You Have Hearing Damage Related to Your Occupation?
Because the condition often develops so incrementally, many individuals with damage do not even suspect they have an issue. However, if you find yourself doing things like increasing the volume of the television or radio, struggling to understand someone with whom you are having a conversation, or even experiencing ringing in your ears, it’s likely that you may have reason for concern.
A hearing evaluation from a certified hearing care provider, such as the professionals at Audiology Island, is the most effective way to determine if you have reason for serious concern. Schedule your hearing evaluation today.