When it comes to protecting your hearing, some obvious situations come to mind. Going to a concert or riding a motorcycle are activities you might associate with loud noise. And you should protect your hearing when you take part in activities like these, of course. But did you know that even your list of household chores can hide hearing dangers? Let?s find out which simple tasks at home can harm your hearing and how you can protect your ears.
Noise-induced hearing loss
You might think the sound of a gunshot or a firework might be more hazardous to your hearing than a loud power tool or appliance. But exposure to noise over time is just as hazardous as brief exposure to a louder noise. Any sound over 85 decibels (db) can damage your hearing – and many simple tasks at home can harm your hearing with higher levels of sound.
Hearing damage is permanent – there?s no cure for hearing loss. According to a CDC study, as many as 40 million American adults under the age of 70 may suffer symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss. A huge number of these cases go untreated, which comes with a lot of risks. And even if noise-related hearing loss isn?t noticeable now, it can lead to a greater hearing loss as you age. The best treatment for this epidemic is prevention. Protecting yourself from loud noise can reduce your risk of hearing loss both now and in the future.
So how can you protect your hearing without giving up on chores entirely? It?s as easy as investing in basic ear protection. Headphones or earplugs that are specially designed for hearing protection are both affordable and easy to find at hardware stores or pharmacies. Foam earplugs can reduce noise by up to 33 db, and some headphones are even more effective.
Simple tasks at home that can harm hearing:
Using blenders and other kitchen appliances
Blenders, juicers, mixers, and other kitchen appliances can make cooking easier and bring all kinds of flavors to your kitchen. But using these loud machines regularly is a recipe for hearing damage! At their highest settings, some blenders can reach sound levels of 100 db, which is significantly higher than the safe sound threshold.
No need to give up the smoothies, though. Simply wear earplugs while you perform loud tasks in the kitchen. This way you can satisfy your taste buds without damaging your ears!
Blow-drying your hair
This is a daily task for many people, but did you know that it can harm your hearing? Depending on your hair dryer, you may be subjecting yourself to sound levels around 80-90 db, and you?re doing it with something that?s held close to your ears!
Once again, earplugs can help you overcome the sound challenge presented by your hair dryer. Just pop in a pair before you get started so your hearing can remain as sharp as your looks.
It may be a drag, but vacuuming is a necessity for most of us – if we want clean floors, that is. Vacuum cleaners typically reach around 70 db, but can reach up to 90 db depending on your model.
While prolonged exposure to this volume of noise isn?t good for your ears, it?s no excuse to stop sweeping. As with other simple tasks at home that can harm your hearing, earplugs and headphones can mitigate the threat vacuuming poses to your ears.
Mowing the lawn
It seems like there?s a loud outdoor appliance to go with every season. Whether you?re mowing the lawn in the summer, snowblowing the driveway in the winter, or using a leaf blower any other time of year, you risk damaging your hearing.
Lawnmowers often produce about 90 db of noise. Other lawn care equipment like leaf blowers, snowblowers, tillers, chainsaws, and hedge trimmers can produce roughly the same amount of noise, if not more. Noise reduction headphones are a great way to protect yourself while using this equipment; pick up a pair at the hardware store when you?re ready to get back to your yard work!
Using power tools
From household repairs to fun DIY projects, power tools are a useful part of any home. While they can fix your house, they can also damage your hearing – and that can?t be fixed. Drills, saws, sanders, and other tools can register around 100 db or louder, posing a high risk to your hearing health. Put those headphones you bought for lawn care to use in the workshop, too!
Painting and using other chemicals
While hearing damage usually occurs due to noise, other factors can cause hearing loss as well. Certain chemicals can be ototoxic or poisonous to your hearing when inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through your skin. According to the Laborer?s Health and Safety Fund of North America, these chemicals include benzene, carbon disulfide, carbon monoxide, styrene, and others, and can be found in products like paints, varnishes, cleaning agents, pesticides, insulating material, lubricants, and more.
Workers who use these chemicals on the job daily have a greater risk of ototoxic hearing loss than people who use them for tasks at home. However, if you use chemicals like these at home regularly, you may still risk damaging your hearing. Use these chemicals safely by wearing breathing and skin protection and ensuring your workspace has adequate ventilation. Many of these chemicals can harm you in other ways if misused, so by practicing safe chemical handling you?ll protect more than just your hearing!
The best treatment is prevention
Hearing damage can happen anywhere, even when you don?t realize it. Over time, these simple tasks at home can harm hearing just like loud noises like fireworks or concerts. By being aware of your sonic surroundings and taking steps to protect your hearing, you can decrease your risk of hearing loss.
Think you may be experiencing symptoms of hearing loss? We can help! At The Hill Hear Better Clinic, our expert audiologists can help you find a treatment that?s right for you. Schedule an appointment today and start hearing better!