Our ears are a vital part of our daily lives. These small, yet mighty, organs allow us to communicate with one another and experience the world around us. Unfortunately, they are also delicate and can be easily damaged. Noise-induced hearing loss is a growing concern, and it’s important to take the necessary steps to protect your ears.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set regulations to ensure that employees are enrolled in the hearing conservation program and that their ears remain healthy while at work. But this isn’t just an issue for the workplace. In all settings, it’s critical to be mindful of the volume and duration of noise exposure.
Two major factors affecting noise-induced hearing loss are the sound level or the volume of noise and the duration of exposure. The louder a noise or music, the less amount of time you should spend listening. This is where NOISHA comes into play. NOISHA is the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and they have set the recommended exposure limit for noise in non-occupational settings. It’s essential to be aware of these guidelines, as overexposure to loud sounds can cause permanent damage to our ears.
There are several examples of non-occupational exposure to loud sounds. This includes shooting guns, riding on motorcycles, attending a NASCAR race, going to a concert, and even listening to music with headphones or earbuds. If you’ve ever found that after a concert your hearing seems muffled or notice you have a slight ringing in your ears, your ears are giving you a warning. This change in hearing post-concert is what we call a Temporary Threshold Shift (TTS). TTS occurs after noise exposure but recovers back to normal after 10 to 72 hours. When you are younger, your ears typically bounce back after a loud concert, although not always. However, repeated exposure can change temporary shifts into a permanent threshold shift, which is irreversible.
So, what can you do to protect your ears? The first step is to simply be aware of the nose levels in your environment. If you’re attending a concert or working in a loud place, make sure you are using earplugs or other protective gear. Also, take breaks by stepping away from the noise when possible to give your ears a chance to rest and recover.
Additionally, you can take steps to promote your overall ear health. This includes avoiding the use of cotton swags, no matter how good it feels, and other objects to clean the inside of your ears. If you experience any change in hearing or have pain or discomfort in your ears, seek medical attention.
The ears are a precious gift that should be properly cared for, just like other parts of your body. By taking proper precautions and using protection when necessary, you can ensure your hearing remains healthy and vibrant for years to come.
Stay tuned for next month’s blog where we will cover the best forms of hearing protection.
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