The first cause of hearing loss is old age, while the second leading cause of hearing loss is exposure to loud noises. This may be due to hobbies or your occupation. One occupation, particularly at risk of noise-induced hearing loss, is auto repair shop and auto parts factory workers.
What Is Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL)?
Just as the name suggests, noise-induced hearing loss is a type of hearing loss caused by exposure to loud, unsafe noises. You can experience this type of hearing loss after being exposed to moderately loud sounds for an extended amount of time or after being exposed to an excessively loud sound for a brief period of time. For example, exposure to highway traffic (85 dB) causes damage after eight or more hours of exposure, while exposure to a shotgun blast (140 dB) causes damage instantaneously.
The way this happens is that loud sounds damage the sensory hair cells within the cochlea. These cells, called stereocilia, convert soundwaves into electrical energy that travels to the brain via the auditory nerve to be interpreted as sound. When dangerously loud sounds pass through the ears, it can damage or destroy these cells, and the result is permanent sensorineural hearing loss.
The Connection Between NIHL & Working with Cars
Several studies have linked working with cars, either in an auto repair shop or an auto parts factory, with noise-induced hearing loss.
One study sought to investigate the prevalence of high-frequency hearing loss (HFHL) of workers in an automobile factory so they could provide a scientific basis for occupational health management of noise workers. Researchers collected data from 2,647 workers; 17.2% of whom had HFHL. Those most at risk were male, over 30 and smoked.
Another study similarly aimed to investigate the prevalence of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) in the automotive industry. The researchers administered surveys and hearing tests to 6,557 participants; 28.82% had NIHL. The main determinants of NIHL were cumulative noise exposure and non-use of hearing protector devices.
Protect Your Hearing
Left untreated, hearing loss is associated with anxiety, depression, falls and even dementia. This is why it’s important to take measure to protect your hearing now. If you work in a noisy environment, your employer should provide you with or reimburse you for hearing protection. You can either purchase disposable earplugs from Mark’s Ace Hardware or invest in custom-molded earplugs from Arizona Hearing Specialists.
To learn more or to schedule an appointment for a hearing test, call Arizona Hearing Specialists today.