How much is a Noisy Workplace actually costing you?

April 25, 2017

Good communication is vital to running a safe and efficient worksite or workplace. But, how do you achieve that amid the noise and multifaceted demands of the average noisy workplace?

Construction sites, Manufacturing Plants, Food Assembly Lines and Shop Floors are typically characterized by loud equipment in constant motion and limited visibility. In this environment, a missed warning or misunderstood instruction can have costly—or even tragic—consequences.

Car Plant
Example: Workers wearing no hearing protection in a Chrysler car plant.

Cost of Noise

How do you know if your workplace is loud enough to require hearing protection. If you meet 2 out of 6 criteria below, then your company needs to re-evaluate their Hearing Conservation Plan.

  1. Your productivity is being seriously impacted.
  2. Your cost of goods are rising from mistakes.
  3. You’re spending at least $310/year for every employee in your hearing conservation program.
  4. Your Risk Management costs are rising
  5. Hearing protection alone is costing you $150/person/year
  6. Supervisors spending an extra 30 minutes a day trying to communicate in noise – @ $30.00/hour

If this is applicable to you, then most likely your incurring a extra cost of  $4,000/year. You do the Math!


What is the Cost of Noise

Industrial Hearing loss

All of this is the Cost of Noise. The Cost of Noise is hearing loss, productivity and risk management. 

The cost of noise saps productivity and adds expense to companies.  Reduce or control the cost of noise and profits will flow straight to the bottom line.  It is a competitive advantage and many companies have recognized it. If you and your company want to do something about the cost of noise, ask us about about dB Blockers.

What are dB Blockers™

dB Blockers and they’re the SMARTEST HEARING PROTECTION In the World.  Why smart? Inside each dB Blocker there is a little green filter, which filters out industrial noise and enhances speech. And it is also really a  communication device. You wear these to protect your hearing and they’ll let you hear people talking to you.

Thanks to recent advancements in technology through SMART (custom) hearing devices, and wireless communication headsets, the costs of communication, productivity and safety has decreased significantly.

 The benefits of dB Blockers™ 

  • clear and continuous communication during the performance of shared tasks
  • improved teamwork and increased mobilitydB-blocker-
  • the ability to provide verbal warnings in real time
  • fewer accidents and lower insurance costs
  • the ability for construction crews to get more done in less time

By adopting dB Blocker™ hearing devices an integral component of worksite communication, companies will not only enjoy a safer work environment, but also develop a more cohesive and productive crew.

dB Blocker™ Classic Intercanal (Vented). Learn More.
dB Blocker™ Classic Intercanal (Vented). Learn More.

 

Hearing Self-Test by Wayne Staab

April 19, 2017

Legalized OTC (over-the-counter) hearing aids are expected as a hearing-impaired consumer option. One of the arguments against this practice is that the potential purchaser has not had an audiogram from which to determine the type and degree of hearing levels to assist in the selection of the appropriate hearing aid, if such is to be recommended. However, serious discussion exists relative to the real value of a pure-tone audiogram for such selection, perhaps for the majority of individuals, especially based on the way pure-tone testing is currently conducted.  What then, might be the role of a hearing self-test?


Predicting Hearing Level Without an Audiogram?

Aside from having an audiogram made, is it possible to somewhat “predict” an individual’s hearing levels? One skilled in the art can most likely draw a reasonable facsimile of a person’s audiogram just by conversing with them. Advertisements by both traditional and audiologist hearing aid dispensers have used paper and pencil questionnaires for years to “estimate” hearing levels in promotional materials to encourage consumers to utilize their services for more in-depth evaluation. Learn More.

 

Self-Test of Hearing – Paper and Pencil

A number of years ago this author designed a paper and pencil self-test of hearing. The test, in the form of a short questionnaire, was designed to allow a consumer to evaluate his/her ability to hear in different circumstances, and that their answers would help them better appreciate and understand their hearing status. They could make their own decision as to whether they wanted to follow through more specifically on the results of the test with whatever hearing testing facility they wanted. What the test was intended to do was to inform them about what they could expect of their hearing, based on their responses.  Because the person knew that their answers were personal, and that no one else would see them, they were likely to answer the questions more honestly than those questionnaires that request their personal information in order to get the results.  The intent of the self-test is to provide a rapid, but reasonably accurate understanding of the person’s hearing status.

Figures 2 provides the questionnaire and Figure 3 provides the scoring information.  The degree of loss as identified from the scoring chart, is explained in the text following the two figures.

 

Staying Bluetooth Connected and dB Blocker™ Protected!

April 17, 2017

Custom Protect Ear is proud to announce that wireless Bluetooth Connectivity is now available with dB Blockers™.  Custom Protect Ear now integrates its’ flagship product, dB Blocker™ custom earpieces, with 2 Jabra Bluetooth products providing users a better communication experience while staying protected in noise. Introducing the Jabra Halo Bluetooth and the Jabra Mini Bluetooth.

HALO:Jabra Halo

The Jabra Halo Bluetooth is a light-weight headset which easily attaches to the dB Blocker™ custom comfort earpieces. The Halo is compatible with Bluetooth enabled phones and radios and can pair with up to 8 devices. The Jabra headset coupled with a dB Blocker™ filtered earpiece will enhance voice reception while keeping the wearer protected in loud environments.

The Jabra Halo Bluetooth and dB Blocker™ earpieces are designed for maximum comfort and convenience, wireless connectivity and protection from damaging noise exposure.

Jabra Halo Headset features:

  • Remains connected to two devices at the same time
  • Rain and water resistant
  • Wind-protected, noise cancelling microphone
  • Operates in temperatures of -10°C to 55°C / 15°F to 140°F
  • Call vibration alert, voice button, answer call, end call, reject call
  • voice dialing & last number redial capability, volume control,
  • voice guidance
  • dB Blocker™ Convertible Vented Earpieces are

compatible with the Jabra Halo Smart headset

  • Battery Life

2 hour Charge Time: 17 hour Talk Time: 22 day Standby

MINI:

The Jabra Mini Bluetooth is a light weight Bluetooth unit supported Jabra Bluetoothby the dB Blocker™ custom comfort earpiece that can pair with up to 8 devices. The Jabra Mini is a smart device as it remains connected to two devices at the same time and has Voice dialing–activate the voice control on your mobile device with a press on the headset. The Jabra Mini and dB Blocker™ custom filtered earpieces bring “hands free” to a whole new level and all while still protecting your hearing.

Jabra Mini Bluetooth features:

  • Power Nap–battery saving mode
  • Battery and pairing status display
  • Operates in temperatures of -10°C to 55°C / 15°F to 140°F
  • Answer call, end call, Jabra status display™ displaying connection and battery status, voice guidance, multiuse™*
  • Battery Life

                    2 hour Charge Time: 9 hour Talk Time: 9 day Standby

These innovative products are available at Custom Protect Ear and ProtectEar USA. (Link to websites) The Jabra Bluetooth comes with a 1 Year manufacture warranty and the dB Blocker™ Custom Earpieces come with a 90 Day Fit Warranty & 3 Year Material Warranty.

About Custom Protect Ear

“The Smartest Hearing Protection in the World”  

For over four decades, Custom Protect Ear has been the leader in providing effective, verifiable, and noise level matched hearing protection at a cost lower than disposable ear plugs. Custom Protect Ear strives to meet and exceed the industry standards in hearing protection and communication by offering a comfortable, affordable and effective line of hearing protection and communication devices. Custom Protect Ear specializes in the manufacture of custom made hearing protectors.  Every dB Blocker™ is individually crafted for each unique ear based on a personal ear mold.

###

To learn more about dB Blocker™ custom earpieces, the Jabra Halo Bluetooth headset and Jabra Mini, please contact us at:

Laura Bennett
Director, Business Development
E. lbennett@protectear.com
TF. 1.800.520.0220 ext. 322
D. 604.635.3250

Hearing Conservation Program

March 30, 2017

NIHL & Hearing Conservation Program

A Hearing Conservation Program consisting of noise hazard identification, hearing protection, education, hearing testing and noise reduction, will reduce the potential of WSIB claims lasting decades.

Common side effects of hearing loss include:

  • Communication Problems
  • Social Isolation
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue

Noise induced hearing loss

Noise induced hearing loss is a permanent hearing impairment resulting from prolonged exposure to high levels of noise. One in 10 Americans has a hearing loss that affects his or her ability to understand normal speech. Excessive noise exposure is the most common cause of hearing loss.

“The National Institute of Health reports that about 15 percent of Americans aged 20 to 69 have high frequency hearing loss related to occupational or leisure activities.”

NIHL begins by impairing the ability to hear high pitch sounds such as beeps and whistles. It is these tones that break up words into syllables, without which, voices (particularly women’s and children’s) sound muffled, as though they were talking with their hands over your mouth. These tones also provide the directional cues that help us locate the source of a sound. Diminished ability to hear these tones can lead to accidents, miscommunication, and other costly mistakes both on the job and elsewhere. And eventually, the hearing loss begins to spread to the lower pitch tones as well, making it difficult to hear all voices, music, and many other things in our everyday life.

“Torey Nalbone, associate professor and chair of civil engineering at the University of Texas at Tyler, suggests it’s the unprotected noises that we take for granted that are short durations at significant intensity levels – those are the ones that are sneaking up on workers and causing hearing conservation problems.”

Hearing Conservation

Impact of NIHL

Employees with noise induced hearing loss often describe their lives as one of isolation, both at work and at home. They get confused and are unable to follow conversations, especially in crowded, noisy places. And because they have trouble hearing voices, they often live under tremendous anxiety and stress that affects both their job and their family life.

Under OSHA rules, the permissible exposure limit for noise in the construction industry is 90 decibels, measured as an 8-hour time-weighted average. At that level, employers are required to provide a hearing conservation program for workers. However, NIOSH advocates lowering the PEL in construction to 85 dBA, which is the cap OSHA sets for general industry.

Hearing Conservation: When an employer is required to provide hearing protectors

Employers must provide hearing protectors to all workers exposed to 8-hour TWA noise levels of 85 dB or above. This requirement ensures that employees have access to protectors before they experience any hearing loss.

Employees must wear hearing protectors:

  • For any period exceeding 6 months from the time they are first exposed to 8-hour TWA noise levels of 85 dB or above, until they receive their baseline audiograms if these tests are delayed due to mobile test van scheduling;
  • If they have incurred standard threshold shifts that demonstrate they are susceptible to noise; and
  • If they are exposed to noise over the permissible exposure limit of 90 dB over an 8-hour TWA.

Employers must provide employees with a selection of at least one variety of hearing plug and one variety of hearing muff. Employees should decide, with the help of a person trained to fit hearing protectors, which size and type protector is most suitable for the working environment. The protector selected should be comfortable to wear and offer sufficient protection to prevent hearing loss.

Hearing protectors must adequately reduce the noise level for each employee’s work environment. Most employers use the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) that represents the protector’s ability to reduce noise under ideal laboratory conditions. The employer then adjusts the NRR to reflect noise reduction in the actual working environment.

The employer must reevaluate the suitability of the employee’s hearing protector whenever a change in working conditions may make it inadequate. If workplace noise levels increase, employees must give employees more effective protectors. The protector must reduce employee exposures to at least 90 dB and to 85 dB when an STS already has occurred in the worker’s hearing. Employers must show employees how to use and care for their protectors and supervise them on the job to ensure that they continue to wear them correctly. [1]

Prevention: Establish a workplace Hearing Conservation Program

Most NIHL is due to over-exposure to high noise levels in the workplace and it is the responsibility of the employer to prevent this over-exposure with a hearing conservation program. This does not simply mean giving them some hearing protectors and leaving them on their own. What type of hearing protector is appropriate? What is the appropriate noise reduction rating for the protectors? Do you know the actual noise level the will be used in? How will you ensure the hearing protectors will be worn properly (or at all)? Have you considered reducing the noise at the source? This could potentially eliminate the risk altogether. Maybe the cost of buying a quieter hand tool is less than the long-term cost of the hearing protectors. A comprehensive HCP will deal with all of these issues and ensure the long-term hearing safety of the workers.

A comprehensive Hearing Conservation Program consists of the following elements:

  • Noise Survey and Noise Dosimetry measurement
  • Engineered noise control
  • Hazard postings
  • Hearing Protectors (See dB Blockers) 
  • Baseline & annual hearing tests
  • Hearing Safety Education and Training
  • Annual program review

So if you are looking to reduce noise where you can, provide hearing protection devices where you can’t, help the participants understand the program and how it benefits them, and check them regularly for hearing loss, then we suggest you get a Hearing Conservation Program tailored to your company’s needs.

A strong emphasis must be put on the educational components of the program. These will be the cornerstone of the program and will play a large part in the relative success.

Hearing Conservation Resources: 

CPE Hearing Conservation Checklist

Management Essentials for an Effective Hearing Conservation Program


SOURCES 

[1] https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3074/osha3074.html

http://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/10077-creating-a-sound-hearing-conservation-program

https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3074/osha3074.html

While Riding, what’s in your ears …

March 24, 2017

While Riding, what’s in your ears …

It’s time to make some noise about hearing protection.

“Most motorcyclists are diligent about wearing helmets and sturdy apparel to protect the parts of our bodies that are most likely to get injured in an accident. However, there is a part of your body that may be suffering damage every time you ride, even if you never fall down—your ears. As riders we are regularly exposed to noise levels that put us at risk of permanent hearing loss, the same as industrial workers, heavy metal musicians, and machine gunners.”

According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, noise induced Hearing loss is the most common permanent and preventable occupational injury in the world. Hearing loss can occur from a single extremely loud sound such as an explosion, but more often than not it’s incurred gradually over time. Just as skin cancer usually grows as a result of regular exposure to the sun, noise induced hearing loss is most commonly the result of repeated and prolonged exposure to elevated noise levels. The unfortunate reality is that riding a motorcycle is a noisy endeavor, and the more you do it, the more likely you are to damage your hearing.

 The most widely recognized resource for recommendations on noise exposure limits is OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). OSHA offers a sliding scale showing that the louder the noise, the shorter the time your ears can safely be exposed to it. Noise intensity is measured in decibels and the decibel scale is logarithmic, so a noise that registers at 70 decibels (say, a vacuum cleaner) is 10 times louder than normal conversation, which typically rings in at 60 decibels. Sounds above 120 decibels (an ambulance siren) may be painful to hear and so would clearly pose a risk to your hearing health, but OSHA says permanent hearing loss can occur with sustained exposure (more than eight hours) above 85 decibels, or roughly the sound of a lawnmower—or the noise level inside your helmet while riding down the road at 65 mph.[1]

hearing protection for riders

 

There is a lot of  discussion about wearing ear plugs while riding a motorcycles; several opinions surface around whether or not doing it is a good idea. Amongst riders,  like so many other elements of this sport, the use of ear plugs while riding tends to be a controversial topic; many riders swear by using ear plugs, but many others refuse to do it, wanting to be as connected their bike and traffic conditions as possible to enhance their safety. The truth is, however, that most riders on both sides of the debate are under-informed about what the real threats to your hearing are while riding, and how hearing protection actually works.

We found some myths that have been documented for riders to think about when making their decision whether or not to use hearing protection. It is important that riders understand that the so called ambient wind noise is the silent killer and what you can do about it before it hurts your hearing.

Common Myths about Hearing Protection while riding a motorcycle [2]

Myth #1: You can’t hear traffic hazards, sirens, your bike, or other important sounds while wearing hearing protection. 

Wearing ear plugs does block sound, but the way it actually affects your hearing is counter-intuitive.

The real killer of hearing, and what we are trying to prevent while riding, is wind noise; the continuous, high-frequency sound created as you rush through the air at riding speeds. What we want to hear are low-frequency sounds, things like cars around us, engine RPM, and approaching sirens.

Because wind noise beats on your ears non-stop while you ride, it creates a condition called temporary threshold shift (also referred to as TTS), which is a temporary hearing loss that results from continuous over-exposure to sound (we’ve all experienced this at a concert, races, when operating machinery, etc.) In other words, you go partially deaf for a while after an extended period of riding.

That temporary deafness is even more dangerous to your safety on the road than wearing ear plugs, because it affects all frequencies of hearing. Proper hearing protection prevents that from happening, and cuts high-frequency wind noise while still allowing important low-frequency sounds to be heard.

Ask about our dB Blockers made especially made for riding.

Myth #2: You only need to wear hearing protection if you have a loud bike.

Naturally, loud bikes are more likely to create hearing damage than quiet bikes, when revving or accelerating for example. But once again, the biggest danger to your hearing while riding is wind noise, and it piles up a lot faster than you think. Whether you ride a thunderous V-twin or a stock 250, the sound of your bike is minuscule when compared to the volume of wind noise, which is usually around the 100-110dB range at highway speeds. It is a constant, high-frequency sound; the type that is the biggest threat to your hearing, as you tend to not notice it slowly beating your eardrums to death.

Myth #3: You don’t need to wear hearing protection if you wear a full-face helmet.

True, wearing a full-face helmet does cut exposure to sound, but to degree that is not significant with respect to hearing damage. Check out these numbers: different studies show a reduction in the range of 5-10dB when wearing a full-face helmet; but at 100dB-plus levels found at normal highway speeds, this is still well within the territory of permanent hearing damage. Some helmets flow air so well, the wind noise can actually be almost equal to that of not using a helmet at all!

Protect Ear USA provides personalized industrial earplugs that matters to both, the individual as well as the organization, because of the benefits that proper hearing protection can offer. dB Blockers custom molded earplugs are commonly used in the following industries and environments, learn more about two way hearing protection. 

Myth #4: A windshield/fairings will cut wind noise enough.

Much like the difference between full-face and half-helmets, there is a reduction in sound level, but not to a significant degree. Depending on the style of windshield or fairings, and the height of the rider and his body position, the resulting turbulence may mean there is hardly any reduction in noise at all. Rehearing protection for ridersducing ambient noise is a concern for some riders. If you plug your ears, how will you hear your bike’s engine or, more importantly, monitor traffic around you? Learn more about hearing protection you can actually hear    through… dB Blockers. 

dB Com™ X-Treme Headset (Intrinsically Safe)dB Blocker Grip Non vented

Wind noise while motorcycle riding regularly exceeds the levels at which hearing damage will occur. Protect your hearing without blocking the sounds you want to hear with Custom hearing protection, All Sport dB Blockers. 

All Sport

 

SOURCES


[1] It’s time to make some noise about hearing protection. By ARI HENNING NOVEMBER 1, 2016

[2]Common Myths about Hearing Protection: www.bikebandit.com/blog/post/motorcycle-ear-plugs

 

Young construction workers less likely to protect hearing says WorkSafeBC

March 13, 2017

Young construction workers less likely to protect hearing says WorkSafeBC

by THE CANADIAN PRESS

RICHMOND (NEWS1130) – The organization that regulates health and safety in British Columbia workplaces reports almost one in four young construction workers is not doing enough to protect against hearing loss.

New data from WorkSafeBC shows 24 per cent of construction workers aged 21 or under don’t wear hearing protection.

That compares with 13 per cent of construction workers who don’t use hearing protection over the age of 50 and 11 per cent in all other age groups in the industry.

WorkSafe says young workers in construction are also less likely to wear hearing protection than young employees in other industries, such as manufacturing and primary resources.

The data was collected last year from more than 160,000 hearing tests conducted by BC employers as part of hearing loss prevention programs required by WorkSafeBC.

Occupational audiologist Sasha Brown says noise-induced hearing loss can be caused by a single loud noise or by repeated exposure to consistent noise, and it must be taken very seriously.

Read Article. 

Generation Deaf: Millennials

AC/DC rocked the rock ‘n ‘roll world when they postponed further tour dates due to concern for lead singer Brian Johnson’s hearing. As it turns out, the hearing problems facing Johnson – the 68-year-old front man for the famously loud rock legends – may also face millions of millennials throughout the world in the near and distant future.

For Baby Boomers, you had to attend THE WHO concert to get damaged hearing.

For Generation X, it was AC/DC, but now ear-shattering decibels are available with ear buds.

Johnson’s ears are a miracle in having lasted this long, they have been through noises ranging from race cars to concerts for decades. Yet last year a different WHO, the World Health Organization rather than the band, claimed that about 1.1 billion young people worldwide face the risk of hearing loss. The culprits are no longer just noisy venues, but also music players.

In their analysis, the WHO found that almost half of those ages 12 to 35  listen to their music players at unsafe volumes, while around 40 percent expose themselves to very loud events such as concerts.


Hearing Loss Case Study

Hearing loss began early for Josh Musto, triggered at first by a heavy metal concert and worsened by years of playing guitar in two bands. Listening to loud music constantly through ear buds may be to blame for a ringing in his ears.

“I’ve been a musician forever,” said Musto, now 21 and a junior at the New School in New York City. “There’s a lot of noise in my life.”

Josh Musto, a music student at New York City’s New School, is an intern at SiriusXM radio. Mayra Ramales

Musto is not alone. Doctors warn that a steady onslaught of loud noise, particularly through ear buds, is damaging the hearing of a generation wired for sound — although they may not realize it for years.

Earlier this year the World Health Organization warned that 1.1 billion young people are at risk of hearing loss because of personal audio devices, such as smartphones, and damaging levels of sound at entertainment venues like electronic dance music festivals, where noise levels can top 120 decibels for hours.

“Probably the largest cause [of hearing damage] is millennials using iPods and [smartphones],” says Dr. Sreekant Cherukuri, an ear, nose, and throat specialist from Munster, Indiana.

Hearing loss among today’s teens is about 30 percent higher than in the 1980s and 1990s, Cherukuri estimates.

“You (once) had a Walkman with two AA batteries and headphone thongs that went over your ears,” he told NBC News. “At high volume, the sound was so distorted and the battery life was poor. Nowadays, we have smart phones that are extremely complex computers with high-level fidelity.”

Cherukuri tells young patients to stop wearing headphones — especially earbuds, which place the sound closer to the ear drum, enhancing volume by as much as 9 decibels. Learn more about custom personal hearing protection. 

“It’s very easy to achieve unknowingly,” he said.

TODAY

According to the National Institutes of Health, repeated exposure to sound over 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. Permanent damage can happen in minutes, experts say, and when the damage is done, it’s irreversible.

Noise exposure in kids is a growing concern,” said Nicole Raia, a clinical audiologist at University Hospital in Newark, New Jersey. Raia said she sees more tinnitus in young people, an early sign of hearing loss, but, “we don’t catch them until they are in their 20s and 30s.” And because audio-screening protocols are not that sophisticated, many children with subtle damage pass hearing tests, she added.

Read Full Article.

 

How to Protect your hearing and Protection Devices in cold weather

March 8, 2017

Can you believe its March and some places are still getting snow!  For those of you living in the west coast you may be having an extended winter with unpredictable weather changes. Although uncertain uncertain environment brings stress and anxiety it also brings extra caution and attention to details.


How to Protect your hearing and Protection Devices in cold weather

Located in Surrey BC – Custom Protect Ear has experienced a long not average WINTER. Just when you think spring is around the corner it seems to snow again. They are calling it SNOWMAGEDON here is the province of BC. So in this kind of cold there are a few precautions you should take to avoid unnecessarily damaging your hearing aids and protection during the cold, winter months.

Ear infections

Winter brings a higher risk of ear infection, in both children and adults, for several reasons. One of these reasons is that less blood is circulated in the cold; add that to greater risk of irritation, trapped moisture or bacteria and you have a recipe for a painful condition known as otitis media.
Ear infections are inflammations of the middle ear which result from a cold, an infection or presence of a virus or bacteria. Infected material builds up behind the eardrum and blocks the Eustachian tube. Antibiotics can treat most ear infections but until the fluid is cleared, untreated temporary hearing loss can result. Be sure to treat colds and flu immediately with rest, medication and plenty of fluids, and if you suspect an ear infection see a doctor immediately to prevent hearing damage.
You can reduce your risk of ear infections by keeping your ears warm and dry when you are outside in winter weather. Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising to improve blood circulation can also be helpful, especially in the winter months when resistance to infection is lower.

Extreme cold

It turns out earmuffs, hats, and scarves are not just fashion accessories. Excessive exposure to extreme cold and wet conditions can lead to a condition known as exostosis. Also known as “surfer’s ear” due to the condition being especially prevalent in those who spend time in or around cold water, exostosis results when exposure to the cold causes knobs of bony growth to appear on the bone surrounding the ear canal. As a result the ear canal can become blocked, which increases risk of infection due to trapped fluid. While the condition can be corrected surgically, avid skiers, snowmobilers or snowshoers should make sure to keep their ears warm, dry and covered to reduce their risk.

Protect your hearing aids

Hearing aids are especially susceptible to harsh winter elements, so wearing hats, scarves or earmuffs can not only protect your hearing, but your hearing aids as well. Wind, rain, cold and freezing temperatures can shorten battery life as well as allowing moisture to build up in your hearing aids. Keeping hearing aids warm and dry with a hat or earmuffs is a good idea, but keep in mind that if you wear those you might sweat, which will also cause moisture to build up in the hearing aids. An effective solution is to use a dry-aid kit overnight after removing batteries.

Indoor sports arenas

For many people, winter means spending time in arenas watching their favourite sports like basketball or hockey. But beware, because the decibels indoor arenas can, and often do, reach dangerous levels. And it is not an accident; arenas pride themselves on their fans’ enthusiasm and claim bragging rights for reaching record-breaking decibel levels. Some arenas can reach levels in excess of 120 decibels, which according to experts isHearing in cold weather enough to cause immediate damage. Even if the damage isn’t felt immediately, noise damage accumulates over time. So be sure to take along hearing protection; check out dB Blockers a long term, cost effective solution. Placed correctly, these custom earplugs will reduce the harmful vibrations from excessive noise and help save your hearing down the road.

 

Help Your Hearing, Improve Your Social Life, Get Healthier – QUALITY OF LIFE

February 24, 2017

Good hearing keeps you in the game, but how much is good social activity worth?

Various studies have linked social connections to better health and longer life, but it hasn’t been clear whether healthy people were more socially active to begin with.  A  review of 148 studies from researchers at Brigham Young University looked at healthy people who were followed for 7.5 years, on average.  The study(ies) controlled for the health of the subjects.

The results showed that the value of social interaction was stronger and than you might thing.  Based on the data from these studies,  weak social ties in your community are a major risk factor to your health,  at least as harmful to your health as smoking, lack of exercise or obesity. For instance:

  1.  You have a 50% lower risk of dying if you have close friends, family or work relationships.
  2.  Poor socialization threatens your health as much as if you were an alcoholic or were smoking a pack a day.
  3.  Poor social connections are harder on your health than not exercising, or being obese.

The study concludes that medical checkups should screen patients for social well being, with the goal of enhancing social connections.

It goes almost without saying that medical checkups should also screen patients for hearing loss, to ensure that patients have a good shot at maintaining social well being.  We think and hope readers will  agree that hearing well is an essential ingredient for developing and maintaining successful social networks.

Quality of Life

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Article

 

What is Noise Induced Hearing Loss?

February 17, 2017

What is Noise Induced Hearing Loss?

Noise induced hearing loss is a permanent hearing impairment resulting from prolonged exposure to high levels of noise. One in 10 Americans has a hearing loss that affects his or her ability to understand normal speech. Excessive noise exposure is the most common cause of hearing loss.

“The National Institute of Health reports that about 15 percent of Americans aged

20 to 69 have high frequency hearing loss related to occupational or leisure activities.”

Because of occupational risk of noise induced hearing loss, there are government standards regulating allowable noise exposure. People working before the mid 1960s may have been exposed to higher levels of noise where there were no laws mandating use of devices to protect hearing. Recent studies show an alarming increase in hearing loss in youngsters. Evidence suggests that loud rock music along with increased use of portable radios with earphones may be responsible for this phenomenon.

When noise is too loud, it begins to kill cells in the inner ear.

As the exposure time to loud noise increases, more and more hair cells are destroyed. As the number of hair cells decreases, so does your hearing. Currently, there is no way to restore life to dead hair cells; the damage is permanent.

The damage caused by noise, called sensorineural hearing loss, can be caused by several factors other than noise, but noise-induced hearing loss is different in one important way – it can be reduced or prevented altogether.

Noise can also cause a reversible hearing loss, called a temporary threshold shift. This typically occurs in individuals who are exposed to gunfire or firecrackers, and hear ringing in their ears after the event (tinnitus).

What Causes Noise Induced Hearing Loss?

First, we have to define noise. Sound can be measured scientifically in two ways — intensity and pitch. Both of these affect the degree to which sound (noise) damages hearing.

NIHL: Intensity of Sound

Intensity of sound is measured in decibels (dB). The scale runs from the faintest sound the human ear can detect, which is labeled 0 dB, to over 180 dB, the noise at a rocket pad during launch. Decibels are measured logarithmically, being 20 times the log of the ratio of a particular sound pressure to a reference sound pressure. This means that as decibel intensity increases by units of 20, each increase is 10 times the lower figure. Thus, 20 decibels is 10 times the intensity of 0 decibels, and 40 decibels is 100 times as intense as 20 decibels. Sound intensity may be given in two different units. Persons interested in the actual physical quantification of sound use units of sound pressure level (SPL). SPL is calibrated to a constant sound pressure level that does not vary with frequency. On audiograms, however, sound intensity is calibrated in hearing level (HL), meaning that the reference sound is one that that just barely heard by a normal population. Thus HL units are relative ones and do not generally correspond to SPL units. Higher intensity (db) of sound causes more damage. Many experts agree that continual exposure to more than 85 decibels may become dangerous.

The following table illustrates some common sounds and their intensity.

Approximate Decibel Level Examples
0 dB the quietest sound you can hear.
30 dB whisper, quiet library.
60 dB normal conversation, sewing machine, typewriter.
90 dB lawnmower, shop tools, truck traffic; 8 hours per day is the maximum exposure (protects 90% of people).
100 dB chainsaw, pneumatic drill, snowmobile; 2 hours per day is the maximum exposure without protection.
115 dB sandblasting, loud rock concert, auto horn; 15 minutes per day is the maximum exposure without protection.
140 dB gun muzzle blast, jet engine; noise causes pain and even brief exposure injures unprotected ears; maximum allowed noise with hearing protector.

NIHL

NIHL: Frequency

Pitch is measured in frequency of sound vibrations per second, called Hertz (Hz). Frequency is measured in cycles per second, or Hertz (Hz). The higher the pitch of the sound, the higher the frequency. A low pitch such as a deep voice or a tuba makes fewer vibrations per second than a high voice or violin. Generally noise induce hearing loss occurs at a pitch of about 2000-4000 Hz. Frequency is measured in cycles per second, or Hertz (Hz). The higher the pitch of the sound, the higher the frequency. Young children, who generally have the best hearing, can often distinguish sounds from about 20 Hz, such as the lowest note on a large pipe organ, to 20,000 Hz, such as the high shrill of a dog whistle that many people are unable to hear.

Human speech, which ranges from 300 to 4,000 Hz, sounds louder to most people than noises at very high or very low frequencies. When hearing impairment begins, the high frequencies are often lost first, which is why people with hearing loss often have difficulty hearing the high-pitched voices of women and children.

Loss of high frequency hearing also can distort sound, so that speech is difficult to understand even though it can be heard. Hearing impaired people often have difficulty detecting differences between certain words that sound alike, especially words that contain S, F, SH, CH, H, or soft C, sounds, because the sound of these consonant is in a much higher frequency range than vowels and other consonants.

 

NIHL:Duration

In addition, the duration (how long you are exposed to a noise) can affect the extent of noise induced hearing loss. The longer you are exposed to a loud noise, the more damaging it may be.

Every gunshot produces a noise that could damage the ears of anyone in close hearing range. Large bore guns and artillery are the worst because they are the loudest. But even cap guns and firecrackers can damage your hearing if the explosion is close to your ear. Anyone who uses firearms without some form of ear protection risks hearing loss.

Excessive noise is present in many situations. Some of the more common ones include occupational noise (machinery, etc.), loud music, and non-occupational noise (lawn mowers, snow blowers, etc.).

NIHL: Occupational Noise

Habitual exposure to noise above 85 dB will cause a gradual hearing loss in a significant number of individuals, and louder noises will accelerate this damage. For unprotected ears, the allowed exposure time decreases by one half for each 5 dB increase in the average noise level. For instance, exposure is limited to 8 hours per day at 90 dB, 4 hours per day at 95 dB, and 2 hours per day at 100 dB. The highest permissible noise exposure for the unprotected ear is 115 dB for 15 minutes per day. Any noise above 140 dB is not permitted.


SOURCE: http://american-hearing.org/disorders/noise-induced-hearing-loss/#whatis