Noise exposure is the second-leading cause of hearing loss after the natural aging process. One potential source of noise exposure that could affect your hearing is the power tools you use when doing 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?
Just as the name suggests, noise-induced hearing loss is hearing loss caused by exposure to loud noises.
Here’s how loud sounds cause damage:
Within the inner ear is the cochlea, which is filled with fluid and lined with tiny sensory cells called stereocilia. As soundwaves travel through the ears, they move the fluid, which stimulates the stereocilia. The sensory cells convert the soundwaves into electrical energy, which travels via the auditory nerve to the brain to be interpreted as sound.
When dangerously loud sounds pass through the ears, they can damage or destroy the stereocilia. And once damaged, the cells do not regenerate; the result is permanent sensorineural hearing loss.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “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.”
How Can I Protect My Hearing During Yardwork?
Follow our tips below to help you avoid noise-induced hearing loss caused by yardwork:
Wear Hearing Protection
The number one way you can protect your hearing is to wear ear protection, particularly when operating power tools like a lawn mower, weed whacker or leaf blower. You can buy disposable earplugs from Hannaford Pharmacy in Nashua, purchase earmuffs from a sporting goods store or invest in custom-molded hearing protection from Massachusetts Hearing Group.
Take Listening Breaks
Another good way to protect your hearing is to take breaks when operating your power tools. For example, you can mow your front yard, take a lunch break, then mow your back yard. You can also split up certain tasks over each day of the weekend, like leaf blowing on Saturday and mowing on Sunday.
Switch to Electric
Electric power tools emit sounds at a lower volume than gas ones. When the time comes to upgrade one of your power tools, switch to electric.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with an expert audiologist, call Massachusetts Hearing Group today.