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May is Better Hearing Month

This May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working to raise awareness about hearing and speech problems. Hearing loss is often caused by environmental factors, especially those within the workplace. Many preventative measures can be taken to protect your hearing, such as avoiding loud sounds.

Regulations in the Workplace

The CDC estimates that about 22 million workers are exposed to potentially damaging noise at work each year. Luckily, hearing loss is preventable!

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires several standards to ensure hearing safety in the workplace. Employers must implement a hearing conservation program when noise exposure is at or above 85 decibels averaged over 8 working hours. These hearing conservation programs work to:

  • Prevent initial occupational hearing loss

  • Preserve and Protect remaining hearing

  • Equip workers with the knowledge and hearing protection devices necessary to safeguard themselves

To avoid exposure to loud, harmful noises, OSHA recommends several solutions:

  • Using quieter machines

  • Isolating the noise source

  • Limiting worker exposure

  • Using effective protective equipment

The Impact of Loud Noises on Health

Loud noises kill the nerve endings within the inner ear. With increased exposure, more of these nerve endings are damaged. This can result in permanent hearing loss, impacting one's ability to:

  • Hear high-frequency sounds

  • Understand speech

  • Effectively communicate

After significant damage is done to the ear as a result of loud noise, it is unlikely that surgeries or medication can successfully restore hearing. Although hearing aids may help some, it is of great importance that steps are taken to prevent loud noise exposure.

The early identification of hearing loss is extremely important. If you are experiencing any of the following signs, consider getting your hearing checked:

  • Some hearing loss

  • Pain and discomfort

  • Ringing in the ears

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