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About 10 percent of all Americans suffer from some type of hearing loss that impacts their ability to understand normal levels of speech. In some cases it is age-related and there isn’t much you can do to prevent it, but in other situations it’s caused by prolonged or damaging exposure to high noise levels that gradually degrades hearing to the point of hearing loss. To better protect your ears, it’s important to understand how hearing loss occurs and how hearing protection works so you can get the right level of protection for your ears.

 

Hearing Loss Explanation

Inside your ear there are three parts—the outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear. The outer ear is on the outside of your head, and leads to an ear canal with an eardrum to separate the ear canal from the middle ear. Small bones inside this area of the middle ear absorb sound vibrations and transfer them to the inner ear where nerves translate the pulses to your brain as different sounds.

Loud noises kill the nerves inside the inner ear, especially when you have prolonged exposure to these loud noises. Fewer nerve endings in your ear means a decrease in the ability to translate sound waves into sounds and you experience hearing loss. Unfortunately there is no way to repair damaged nerves inside your ear.

 

Hearing Protection Protects Against Loss

Proper hearing protection is designed to reduce the exposure of your nerves to the sounds, thus saving them from damage. There are three basic types of ear protection available: earplugs, earmuffs, and tactical hearing devices.

Earplugs fit snugly into the ear canal and help seal out loud noises. If you’re planning to use this type of protection, make sure they are clean and fit your ear properly—a loose seal in your ear or dirty earplugs might not have the right protection level.

Earmuffs fit over the ears and seal the area around so the entire canal is blocked. They are held in place by a headband, but might not be ideal for situations when you also need to wear protective gear like eyeglasses or headwear.

Tactical hearing devices provide an added benefit of being able to clearly communicate with one another while still protecting your ears from exposure. They are useful in combat or military situations, concert security, and other jobs where being able to hear and communicate with one another is paramount for safety and efficiency.

Experts agree that if you are routinely exposed to noises at 85 decibels (dB) or above (normal conversation is about 60 dB, lawnmowers and power tools are around 90 dB, and snowmobiles and chainsaws are around 100 dB for comparison), you should wear hearing protection.

 

Determining the Need for Protection

Unless you live or work in a particularly hazardous noise environment, most people won’t need hearing protection for their daily life. Loud noises that are damaging may produce a ringing sensation in your ear, or could cause temporary hearing loss even after the exposure is over. Since everyone’s sensitivity to noise is different, it’s important to talk to a hearing professional about whether or not you should get protection for your ears.

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Hearing loss is one of the work related disabilities often ignored. Unlike visual disability or other injuries, it does not manifest right away. Nevertheless, studies are bringing this into light and work safety measures are being implemented accordingly.

As you may have known, long exposure to high levels of decibel decreases the sensitivity of nerve cells in the cochlea, or the inner tube in our ears. Blasting noise may also damage the eardrums, which are irreplaceable. But without data showing the number of employees affected by noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), it is not easy to claim compensation from insurance companies, for example.

Job Exposure Matrix

Dr. Rick Neitzel and his team from the Department of Environmental Health Sciences in the University of Michigan, conducted a study that addresses the need to monitor noise exposure. Neitzel’s team is developing the Job Exposure Matrix (JEM) that can bring to light noise exposure levels in the workplace. Some of the crucial industries being looked at here are aviation, manufacturing, mining and construction companies where the work entails long hours of operating machineries.

Neitzel’s team persuades industries to submit data containing casualties and decibel-exposure. By way of illustration, even with headgears on, soldiers hear 120 dB of machine gun shots and rolling artilleries. Gathering these data will help high-risk industries to review their safety rules and perhaps extend protection to hearing senses. Eventually the study will be functional and will give us a peak of what industries and careers need extra hearing care.

Hearing Protection Instruments

In the meantime, the hearing protection technology industry developed instruments that will cut down the decibel levels. Our micro custom high performance digital hearing enhancement and protection instruments will help keep sound waves down before coming in contact with your inner ears.

Get in touch with us and find out how our devices can protect your hearing while being exposed to high noise levels at work.

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The threat of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is real. Loud noises – paired with long periods of exposure to such – may damage the hair cells in your ears. Worse, the noise that harms your hearing knows no bounds. It doesn’t matter how old you are or where you go. As long as there is loud noise, the sound may impede the function of your ears.

This puts more importance in the way you protect your sense of hearing, all of which begins with controlling the noise levels in an area or in your activities. As much as possible, make sure that the sound levels you are exposed to are safe for your ears. But in the case of noise, how loud is too loud?

Gauging Loudness

Decibels (dB) are the unit of measurement of sound. To make it easier to understand, let’s compare different sounds and their measurements in decibels:

The softest sound audible to you is at 0 dB. A normal whisper registers 30 dB, while regular conversation is at around 60 dB. The music player you use, at max volume, blasts sound at 105 dB. An ambulance siren clocks in 120 dB – a level that’s already painful to the ears up close.

Any noise that exceeds 80 dB has the potential to cause hearing loss, especially over time. The louder the noise, the shorter time your ears can take the sound without incurring damage.

Preserving Hearing

You can take steps to preserve your sense of hearing. The most basic way to do so is to avoid the exposure to overly loud sounds for long hours. Tone down the volume of your music player and the videos you watch. When loud noises are inevitable in the environment you work at, wear the right protective equipment to avoid damaging your hearing.

Tactical Hearing can help you combat NIHL the right way. We have a well-stocked inventory of hearing devices for enhancing or protecting the sense. Our store also carries a wide range of accessories for hearing devices. Whether you need hearing protection or enhancement, we are the store to call. Browse through our products or get in touch with us today for more information.

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About 10 percent of people in the U.S. suffer from some type of hearing loss that impacts their ability to hear normal conversation. While age-related hearing loss is the most common reason, there are also several other things in your daily life that might be damaging your hearing. In fact, millions of people work in environments that could be harmful to their ears. Here are five places you may not have thought about that you should consider hearing protection.

Military Personnel

The Department of Veterans Affairs spends hundreds of millions of dollars annually to help veterans who suffer from hearing loss, and it’s the single most common disability for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

When you’re in the middle of a firefight, you need to make sure you can hear what’s going on around you with your team and fellow soldiers, without being exposed to damaging noises like guns and explosions. Tactical Hearing provides quality devices for military personnel that block the noise that could damage your hearing most, including blasts from fully automatic firearms, compressing the sound in just milliseconds. If you need to communicate with your team, look for devices that have enhancement technology so you can hear and understand each other.

Dental Careers

It might surprise you to learn that a career in dentistry could be detrimental to your hearing long-term. Dental personnel, whether at the office or in the laboratories, are exposed to the sounds of hand pieces, scalers, evacuation, and lab machines that can cause hearing loss over time. In fact, the left ear of a right-handed dentist has been shown to experience greater hearing loss due to its proximity to noise sources such as drills and other hand tools. Since you can’t practice good oral health care without these tools, it’s important to wear hearing protection for dentists.

Construction

Out at a construction site there are plenty of things that could be harmful to your ears, and protecting yourself from the daily noises could be the difference between hearing loss or not. From power tools and jackhammers to heavy equipment on site, it’s important to shield your ears from these damaging sounds. Even when equipment might not seem that harmful, the constant exposure can often be a problem over time.

Aviation

For pilots of commercial or military aircraft, or those who frequently fly, the noise you experience while on the airplane could be causing damage to your hearing. Similar to construction, you likely get used to the sounds and may not think that they are particularly harmful because they don’t seem that loud, but the constant exposure can damage your ears. Wear hearing protection while flying planes large and small.

Trucking

Many long haul truck drivers are exposed to noise levels that could be dangerous over time. Hearing loss can put your entire career at risk, since the inability to hear poses a threat out on the road and could limit your driving abilities. The industry is getting better overall with added insulation in the cab that limits some of the noise from the road outside, and safety measures like limiting the total number of hours per day spent driving or reducing the noise level emission of vehicles; however these measures may not be enough. If you do use hearing protection for truckers, make sure it still allows you to safely operate your vehicle and hear what’s going on around you.

 

Whether you are currently experiencing some of the symptoms and signs of hearing loss, or you work in an industry where you might be at risk, it’s better to get hearing protection from Tactical Hearing sooner than later so you prevent damage to your ears as much as possible.