The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports, “An estimated 12.5% of children and adolescents aged 6–19 years (approximately 5.2 million) and 17% of adults aged 20–69 years (approximately 26 million) have suffered permanent damage to their hearing from excessive exposure to noise.” One potential source of noise exposure that could affect both of these age groups is outdoor chores and yardwork. We review information on noise-induced hearing loss and how you can protect your hearing while doing yardwork below.
What Is Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?
Noise-induced hearing loss, as the name suggests, is hearing loss caused by exposure to loud noises.
Within the inner ear is the cochlea, which is filled with fluid and lined with tiny hair cells called stereocilia. As soundwaves travel though the ears, the fluid moves, which stimulates the hair cells. The stereocilia convert the waves into electrical energy that travels to the brain via the auditory nerve, where it is interpreted as sound.
When dangerously loud sounds pass through the ears, they can damage or destroy the stereocilia. Once damaged, the cells do not regenerate, and the result is permanent sensorineural hearing loss.
How Can I Protect My Ears During Yardwork?
Follow our tips below to protect your ears while doing yardwork.
Wear Hearing Protection
Perhaps the best way to protect your ears is to wear hearing protection, particularly when operating power tools like a lawn mower, weed whacker or leaf blower. You can purchase disposable earplugs, earmuffs from a sporting goods store or custom-fit hearing protection from an audiologist at Southwestern Hearing & Balance.
Take Listening Breaks
Another great way to help protect your hearing is to take breaks from operating these power tools. For example, you can mow your front yard, take a lunch break, then mow your back yard. Or you can split up certain tasks over each day of the weekend.
Switch to Electric
Electric power tools emit lower sound levels than gas ones. When it comes time to upgrade one of your power tools, consider making the switch to electric. For more information or to schedule an appointment with an expert audiologist, call Southwestern Hearing & Balance today.