What makes men different from women? This is a debate in our society which is far from settled. In 2017 a Pew Research Center survey found that most people in the United States found the differences may be based on the way each gender group expresses feelings, displays physical abilities, personal interests and approaches to parenting. However, these are simply opinions and it’s difficult to identify when nurture separates from nature.
Perhaps what defines the difference is different hormones—some of which cause greater likeliness of certain illnesses and health conditions. Along this vein, a recent study found that men may have a greater risk of noise induced hearing loss—but why?!
Understanding Noise Induced Hearing Loss
The sounds of our life help us connect to the world. Sounds like the wind through the trees or a bubbling creek help us feel peace, while our favorite song may release endorphins through our body, sparking joy. Other sounds give us clues of our world, helping us navigate spaces safer and more confidently. However, there can be too much of a good thing. When sounds become louder than a safe listening threshold, they can contribute to a decline in hearing ability that can last a lifetime.
Decibels and Length of Exposure
The volume of sound is measured by decibels (dBA) and an exposure of 85 dBA or more for eight hours can cause permanent hearing damage. It’s important to understand that it’s not just the loudness of the sound, but the length of exposure. As the volume increases, the exposure time decreases. For every three increments in decibels the exposure time till hearing damage is sliced in half. For instance at 88 dBA it only takes four hours, and at 91 dBA it takes two, (and so on). By the time a sound reaches 100 dBA it can take around a 15-minute exposure to sustain damage to your hearing which makes it hard to communicate with the people in your life daily.
Occupational Hearing Damage
One of the most common places where hearing damage occurs is in the workplace. This may be due to long hours. Most shifts are 8 hours or more. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 20,000 workplace hearing loss cases occur annually, many resulting in permanent hearing loss. An estimated 24% of hearing loss in the United States has been attributed to workplace exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This can be due to a wide array of sounds in the workplace including exposure to industrial machines, construction sounds, manufacturing, sirens and more day after day, week after week, year after year. While anyone of any gender can perform these jobs, there are higher rates of males in construction jobs, manufacturing, farming, law enforcement and more. This may be due to ideas of men being more disposed towards manual labor.
Are Men at a Higher Risk for Noise Induced Hearing Loss?
A 2018 study based in China found that men are in fact at a higher risk for noise induced hearing loss. The significant study included 1,140 noise-exposed males and 1,140 noise-exposed females aged 18–60 years at a shipyard in eastern China from August to October 2018. At the start approximately 7.2% of the workers in the study had low-frequency hearing loss (LFHL) and 24% had high-frequency hearing loss (HFHL). The study found that low-frequency hearing loss and high-frequency hearing loss in males was significantly higher than those in females, with high-frequency hearing loss in males measuring at 34.4% and 13.8% in females.
While loud jobs put your hearing at risk- it’s important to understand that they don’t have to. To protect your hearing at work regardless of your gender, it’s important to wear hearing protection. This could come in the form of foam ear plugs. While these are inexpensive it’s important to make sure they form a strong seal in your eardrum to properly protect your hearing. Others who are exposed to loud sound regularly may want to invest in custom fitted earplugs for a more secure and reliable fit. Others find over the earmuffs, providing advanced and reliable protection for your ears. Though under OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) hearing protection is required to be provided at no cost to the worker, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 53% of noise-exposed workers report not wearing hearing protection.
If you suspect you have noise induced hearing loss, don’t hesitate to schedule a hearing exam with us today.