5 Professions Related to Hearing Loss

Many professions are associated with hearing loss due to constant exposure to loud noise. Fortunately, some measures can reduce the damage.
5 Professions Related to Hearing Loss

Last update: 04 July, 2021

Are you interested in knowing 5 professions related to hearing loss? If so, you’re in the right place!

Hearing is one of the most delicate senses in living beings. However, it’s also necessary for our survival and development. Noises produced in various work activities are associated with significant hearing damage.

Hearing loss is the result of aging and exposure to high-intensity sounds. This condition is the most common occupational injury in the United States with more than 22 million workers exposed each year. The severity of the damage depends on the intensity of the noise to which the person is exposed, which is calculated in decibels.

In general, a normal conversation can generate 60 decibels. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) establishes a healthy noise limit for human hearing of 85 decibels. Occupations that continuously expose people to levels above 85 decibels are related to hearing loss.

5 professions associated with hearing loss

Most people are adapted to mild to moderate intensity sounds that are part of everyday life. Work activities are often the main source of loud and continuous noise in adults.

Therefore, it’s common to find workers who progressively lose their hearing and even become deaf.

1) Blacksmiths

Blacksmithing is one of the professions most associated with gradual hearing loss. The metal tools used during forging and casting generate noises exceeding 100 decibels. These sounds are common for blacksmiths and usually go unnoticed.

NIOSH estimates that 86% of ironworkers are regularly exposed to levels that are harmful to the cochlear apparatus. In this sense, the risk of hearing loss associated with ironworking is very high and increases the need for preventive measures to be implemented during practice.

2) Flight crew members

People getting on a plane
There’s little awareness of this problem when boarding an airplane.

Airports and major highways concentrate some of the highest noise levels, with an intensity that often exceeds 80 decibels. Flight crew members are exposed to more than 130 decibels of noise during takeoff, determined by the pressure conditions inside the aircraft.

The effect of noise on flight personnel mainly causes structural damage of the tympanic membrane and neurosensorial alterations of the cochlear organ.

3) Musicians

Decreased hearing acuity and deafness are the most common occupational hazards in musicians. Therefore, this is another profession that’s highly related to hearing loss.

Specialists estimate that 30% to 50% of artists suffer from hearing loss. However, the severity and progression of the condition are related to the genre of music, the type of instrument, and the space where they perform.

In general, concerts and music events emit between 100 and 115 decibels of noise for more than three hours. However, as little as 10 to 20 minutes of exposure to these noise levels increase the risk of permanent hearing loss. Moreover, the prevalence is higher in musicians who don’t use adequate protection.

4) Farmers

A veterinary with hogs
Although it may not seem like it, this profession also causes hearing problems!

Animal husbandry and farming activities are among the professions most associated with hearing loss. For example, the tools used by farm personnel emit noise that exceeds physiological limits and is between 90 and 110 decibels.

Similarly, these workers also work with a high ambient noise load from cattle and other livestock. Studies show that cattle can emit sounds with an intensity of more than 88 decibels during milking. In addition, pigs can reach 130 decibels when squealing.

5) Construction workers

The tools and machinery used during construction are a source of noise that’s highly harmful to people’s hearing health. NIOSH states that 73% of construction workers are at risk of hearing loss and deafness.

The main forms of noise in these environments are high-intensity metallic and electrical sounds. Pneumatic drills produce 120 decibels of noise and jackhammers produce up to 115 decibels. In addition, specialists estimate that the older and less technologically advanced the equipment, the higher the noise intensity.

Recommendations to prevent hearing loss

The central objective in the prevention of occupational hearing loss is to reduce the intensity and time of exposure to occupational noise.

In this sense, specialists recommend the continuous use of earplugs or earphones designed to reduce up to 30 decibels of ambient noise.

Similarly, NIOSH recommends the following guidelines to reduce noise in the work area:

  • Use quiet tools and work equipment: When selecting any work tool, specialists should verify that it has an integrated silencing system.
  • Maintain the tools: It’s advisable to lubricate and clean the gears of the equipment continuously to avoid noise due to friction or wear.
  • Isolate the source of noise in an enclosed space: High-powered, noise-emitting machinery should be located in separate rooms with sound insulation technology.
  • Place barriers on doors and windows to isolate noise.

On the other hand, regular visits to the doctor are of vital importance. Through otoscopy and physical examination, the specialist will be able to identify if there is any hearing alteration and apply the appropriate treatment. In addition, the health professional can offer other preventive measures that apply to the characteristics of each person.

When it comes to hearing loss, ask your doctor

Nowadays, most professions are related to hearing loss, some with a higher risk than others. In general, this condition often goes unnoticed and is diagnosed late.

Any unusual hearing symptoms, such as decreased hearing in one ear relative to the other, pain, or ringing, should be treated immediately. In conclusion, a timely therapeutic approach improves the prognosis of this condition, and doctors associate it with a better quality of life.

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