A NIOSH Science Blog post by Janet Ehlers, RN, MSN, COHC and Pamela S. Graydon, MS, COHC
Meet Nick. Nick is a training mannequin who helps NIOSH teach young people and their families about preventing noise-induced hearing loss. Hearing loss can result from working around noise–even non-powered hand tools–without wearing proper hearing protection. It is not uncommon for a 25 year-old farmer or carpenter to have the hearing of a 50 year-old. In fact, 33% of all people who are exposed to hazardous noise at work will develop noise-induced hearing loss. You don’t have to work on a farm or at a factory to be at risk; common noise sources around your house – such as lawnmowers, power tools, and music systems – can be hazardous to your hearing. It is the sum of all of your exposures to sound throughout the day and evening that add together to damage hearing when that total becomes excessive. Even the young are at risk. In the general population, approximately 15% of those between ages 6 and 19 show signs of impaired hearing.[i] One study found that over 30% of high school boys who live or work on a farm have hearing loss[ii]. We need to protect this and the next generation of workers.
In addition to the obvious problems that hearing loss creates, such as no longer hearing the sounds you want to hear the way you want to hear them and difficulty communicating with others, hearing loss also creates safety and health risks. The inability to hear important warning sounds can increase the likelihood of injury or death, and excessive noise can leave you feeling tired or stressed. It can even increase your blood pressure. Although noise-induced hearing loss is permanent and there is no cure, it is 100% preventable!
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