During summer months, people spend more and more time in their yards. Unfortunately, many of the tools used to maintain one’s yard can have a devastating impact on the ears. If you aren’t careful during yard work, you can develop permanent hearing loss.
How Yard Work Causes Hearing Damage
Within the ears are tiny hair cells called stereocilia. These hair cells convert soundwaves into electrical energy that the brain interprets as sound. When loud sounds enter the ear canal, they can damage these cells, and once damaged, the cells do not regenerate. Permanent noise-induced hearing loss is the result.
According to OSHA, sounds over 85 dB can cause permanent damage over time. Power tools like lawnmowers, chainsaws and weed trimmers can top out around 95-100 dB, which can cause permanent damage in as little as 15 minutes!
Tips for Protecting Your Ears
You can still take care of your yard without harming your hearing, as long as you follow the tips below.
The best thing you can do for your ears while operating a power tool is to wear hearing protection. You can purchase foam earplugs or earmuffs inexpensively at a drug store or online. However, for maximum comfort and protection, we recommend purchasing custom hearing protection from an audiologist’s office.
Your ears need breaks from dangerous sound levels. If you’re planning a weekend of yard work, try to strategize to break up the use of power tools. For example, you can mow the yard on Saturday – taking a lunch break between the front and back yard – and use the edger on Sunday.
Skip the Music
It’s nice to listen to music or an audiobook during monotonous tasks, but doing so while using a mower or similar tool can be extremely harmful. When you wear earbuds while using a power tool, you need to max out the volume in order to hear the song. This means you are essentially doubling your noise exposure. If you must listen to music, invest in noise-cancelling headphones, which will partially block out the sound of the engine and allow you to listen clearly at a lower volume.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the experts at Willamette ENT & Plastic Surgery.