With a growing number of Australian’s suffering in silence (no pun intended) from hearing loss, this month’s Hearing Awareness Week is a timely reminder of this invisible disorder.
Hearing Awareness Week runs from 20-26 August and aims to provide information and awareness about hearing loss in Australia.
It’s a growing concern in Australia with rates of hearing disorders expected to grow from 1 in six of the population to 1 in four by the time we hit 2050. When we get to our seniors 70 years or over, 75% currently have some form of hearing loss.
Coincidentally, August is also Tradies National Health Month and tradies, farmers and other blue collar workers face the biggest risk from one of the most prevalent causes of hearing loss—noise.
Sometimes called industrial deafness, noise induced hearing loss can strike any time and blue collar workers are particularly at risk due to the ongoing use of loud, explosive machinery and tools.
Engines and motor noise are particularly deceptive with the amount of damaging noise they produce. People think that short sharp loud bursts of high pitched noise such as rifles, hammering, loud drums or music, and even nail guns do the most damage to your hearing as they create the largest amount of discomfort to the ear. Although they most certainly do cause damage to the ear, by far the more dangerous and common noises to damage the ear are constant low pitched machinery and motor noises. These sounds seem much softer to us and do not cause as much discomfort so we are less inclined to use hearing protection and limit our exposure to them.
Some people who are now reaching their 40s are also finding that going to concerts in their youth and long-term headphone use is causing tinnitus, which can be an early warning sign of hearing deterioration.
It is shocking how little noise is required to start damaging your hearing. A safe level for noise exposure is 85dBA for 8 hours. For every 3dB over 85dBA that you are exposed to then halve the amount of time in which can be safely spent. For example 88dBA is 4hrs safely, 91dBA is 2hrs, 94dBA is 1 hrs and so forth.
The interesting thing to note about decibel levels is that the scale is not linear. An 80dB sound has ten times more sound pressure than a 70dB sound and 100 times more pressure than a 60dB sound.
The one silver lining for sufferers of hearing loss is that treatment has come a long way. Ongoing miniaturisation and the advancement in technology means there are some very advanced, smart, very discreet (some even invisible) hearing aids on the market that can help treat hearing loss.
Most Australian’s leave hearing loss unchecked for 6-7 years. The fact is, the sooner you address your hearing loss, the better your outcome will be. Don’t delay it any longer. Contact your qualified audiologist today.
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