Hearing Protection is a Must in Farming and Hunting
October 18, 2022
September 30, 2022 By: Julia Omtvedt, Au.D, CCC-A Julia Omtvedt, Au.D, CCC-A, is an audiologist at Mankato Clinic Hearing Care Center. Avoiding noise exposure is the best way to protect our hearing, but that’s not always realistic. Farmers are at a particularly increased risk for hearing loss due to exposure to loud equipment and machinery … Continued
Julia Omtvedt AuD, CCC-A
Hearing Care Center
September 30, 2022
By: Julia Omtvedt, Au.D, CCC-A
Julia Omtvedt, Au.D, CCC-A, is an audiologist at Mankato Clinic Hearing Care Center.
Avoiding noise exposure is the best way to protect our hearing, but that’s not always realistic.
Farmers are at a particularly increased risk for hearing loss due to exposure to loud equipment and machinery for extended periods of time. The risk of hearing damage from noise exposure increases based on the time spent in the environment, making farmers especially vulnerable to hearing loss.
In addition to farming, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders recommends hearing protection in these settings.
- Industrial, warehouse, landscape, military, construction and other loud (or potentially loud) workplace settings.
- Auto races, sporting events and concerts
- Motorcycle, dirt bike and snowmobile riding, and when operating an ATV or tractor
- Band or orchestra rehearsals and performances.
- Shooting sports and hunting
Although it may be seen as a nuisance to put hearing protection on while using loud machinery or hunting, it is a relatively simple way to prevent hearing loss and ideally prevent the need for hearing aids later in life.
As an audiologist, I think of hearing protection as being similar to sunscreen. A few precautionary measures in the present can go a long way to prevent some difficult complications in the future. Hearing loss and tinnitus are two of these major complications. Tinnitus is often described as a ringing in the ears. Although we have hearing aids to help individuals manage their hearing loss, there is no true cure for hearing loss or tinnitus.
Hearing aids do help individuals hear better; however, they cannot fix the damage noise exposure has done to the ears. Individuals fit with the best possible hearing aids will still likely experience difficulty hearing in noisy situations, and although tinnitus management strategies help individuals to better cope with their tinnitus, there is nothing out there that will permanently eliminate the tinnitus.
A good rule of thumb is that if the environment you are in is loud enough that you have to raise your voice for others to hear you or if they have to raise their voice for you to hear them, you are at risk for hearing damage from noise exposure and hearing protection should be used.
Choose from a variety of hearing protectors.
- Formable foam earplugs: Made of soft foam, these earplugs expand to snugly fill the ear canal. They are disposable but can be reused if they are clean and still fully expand to their like new shape. Wash with soap and water. Let dry. Watch this video from National Institutes of Health on how to properly insert foam earplugs at www.nidcd.nih.gov/news/multimedia/hearing-protection-how-use-formable-earplugs-video.
- Pre-molded earplugs: Often referred to as reusable, they are made from silicone, plastic or rubber and come in one-size-fits-most as well as small, medium or large. These earplugs are ideal for movies or concerts as they have the same effect as turning down the volume.
- Canal caps: A stiff band provides gentle force to seal the earplugs into your ear canal.
- Protective Earmuffs: Earmuffs look like headphones with soft ear cushions to cover the outer ear. They are joined by an adjustable headband.
- Custom ear protection is available at local hearing care centers.
Protect your hearing today!