Every day, our ears are exposed to a cacophony of sounds. Although many of these sounds are harmless, some of them pose serious risks to our hearing health. This risk increases if one works in particular professions which require consistent exposure to loud noises.
When many of us consider what occupations might increase our risk for hearing loss or hearing-related issues, we often think of jobs where we work with loud machinery. These jobs, such as construction or military work, can indeed cause problems for your hearing health, but what about other lines of work that can pose the same risks?
New studies and research shows that other, less obvious professions, can have serious implications for people’s hearing health – and not in the ways you might think.
Teaching Preschool Can Damage Your Hearing
Researchers from the Sahlgrenska Academy, Sweden have found some interesting correlations between hearing health problems and preschool teachers. In a recent study, these researchers learned that 70% of female preschool teachers suffer from some sort of auditory fatigue, 50% have difficulty understanding speech and 40% are hypersensitive to sound.
These statistics should be shockingly high. The researchers found that the incidence of hearing-related issues amongst preschool teachers is considerably higher than amongst woman in general and also higher than the typical incidence rates seen in occupation groups that are traditionally thought to be at risk for these problems.
When it comes to preschool teachers and their hearing loss, the cause of their problems is fairly clear. Anyone who has ever walked into a preschool classroom knows that it’s an incredibly loud environment. The only problem is that unlike people who work with machinery, the screams of these children can hold important information that needs to be listened to.
So what is there to do about this problem? Unfortunately, it’s a pretty complex situation as one must balance the desire to let the children interact with each other with the need to reduce overall noise levels. The researchers suggest that more time outside, classrooms designed with better acoustics, and hearing protection devices – such as custom molded earplugs – might alleviate the issue.
Gardening-related Ear Injuries
While gardening is often considered to be a fairly benign hobby or profession, it can pose some serious – and permanent – damage to one’s ears.
A small report by doctors at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital in Melbourne points to the dangers that plants like the Yucca can pose to our hearing health. Over a five-year period, the doctors treated 28 patients who suffered from hearing issues after gardening or handling a yucca plant. One in seven of these cases resulted in some sort of permanent hearing loss.
The researchers blame the long, thin, sharp, and pointy leaf of the yucca plant, which can easily perforate the eardrum if handled incorrectly. Although eardrums can recover from such injuries, the problem becomes more serious and permanent if the leaf disturbs the delicate bones of the inner ear.
While this may not seem like a particularly common injury, these cases remind us that even the most seemingly innocent tasks can present unanticipated dangers to our hearing health. It’s important to be on the lookout for the less obvious ways in which we might be damaging our hearing and to consult a hearing healthcare professional if you’re concerned about potential damage.