Work & Leisure Activities That Could Contribute to Hearing Loss

In Uncategorized by Jennifer G. Mayer, Au.D., CCC-A

Jennifer G. Mayer, Au.D., CCC-A
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If you have ever been to a loud concert or sporting event, you have a sense for how loud a leisure event can be. The din of voices adds to the amplified sounds to create a powerful sonic experience. Unfortunately, if you heard ringing or muffling in your ears afterward, you are well aware of the dangers those events can pose. When you try to fall asleep at night after this event, the sound of the ringing can be particularly loud, tipping you off to the effect that loud public events can have on you. 

Unfortunately, these obviously loud events are not alone among the sonic environments that can pose a risk of hearing loss. Some of the activities woven into our daily lives can pose a risk, as well. Let’s take a moment to consider some work and leisure activities that pose a risk of hearing loss. Particularly if you engage in these spaces for an extended period of time, you need to get serious about hearing protection to make sure you are not doing permanent damage. 

Work Activities That Pose a Risk of Hearing Loss

Just like those loud concerts or sporting events, some workplaces are obviously dangerous to your hearing. If you work on an airfield, as a welder, or in a loud factory, then your employer should have protocols in place to protect you from hearing damage. 

Even in these cases, it is important to take your hearing health into your own hands. Although the basic recommended levels of protection are a good start, you may find that you want more advanced hearing protection in these very loud contexts. However, these work sites are not the only ones that pose a risk of hearing loss. Mining, oil, and gas extraction are processes that might not seem like a hearing loss risk at first, but they have been shown to correlate with higher rates of hearing loss, on average. 

Those who work in some restaurants and bars are at a risk of hearing loss. Being exposed to the din of voices for an entire shift, particularly when combined with background music, can be enough to damage your hearing. Even preschool teachers demonstrate higher rates of hearing loss. The sounds of children shouting and playing can be very loud, particularly when you are involved in this work for a full shift day after day. In each of these cases, a basic set of disposable foam earplugs is a good place to start. More advanced hearing protection is available, as well, in the form of custom-fitted ear molds or noise-cancelling earmuffs. 

Leisure Activities That Pose a Risk of Hearing Loss

Music activities are commonly associated with hearing loss, particularly loud genres like rock, trap, or dance music. However, even seemingly quiet acoustic instruments can pose a risk of hearing loss when they are played close to the ears. Those who play a wind or string instrument close to the ear, particularly when practice sessions extend for hours on end, can be at greater risk. Even the school band can cause hearing damage in some cases. 

Beyond music contexts, one leisure activity that holds a surprising risk of hearing loss is surfing. If you are a dedicated surfer, you might have heard of “surfer’s ear.” This condition, also known as exostosis, occurs when cold wind and water exposure makes the ear grow additional bone structures seemingly in an attempt to protect the ear canal. On the contrary, this additional bone mass does not protect the ear from hearing loss but seems to cause it in some cases. When these bone growths advance, they can cause other health problems in the ears, as well. If you are an avid surfer, wearing earplugs, a wetsuit hood, or swimming cap are all good ways to protect your ears from damage. 

Indeed, wearing protection is the key to prevention in each of these activities, and having earplugs readily available is half the battle. Make it a habit to keep disposable earplugs in locations like your car, purse, or even your wallet. You can get an attachment for your keyring that holds earplugs, making it impossible to leave them at home. 

If you are concerned about your hearing abilities, consider adding a hearing test as a part of your annual health screening. Contact us today to learn more!