Hearing loss is affecting people at a younger and younger age, causing undue stress and shortening the working lives of numerous Americans. While many different careers have been linked to early loss of hearing, a recent study discovered occupational hearing loss in teachers—a group that may not consider themselves at risk for work-induced hearing problems.
The results of the study show that many classrooms have average noise levels exceeding the recommended maximum 85 decibels (dB), damaging a teacher’s hearing over the course of an eight-hour workday. A quarter of all teachers who underwent audiometric testing showed some degree of measurable hearing loss. The teachers surveyed showed altered hearing ability due to:
- Classroom noise levels. Over 93 percent of teachers reported classroom noise levels that are considered “excessive” by Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) standards. While sound levels will vary from classroom to classroom, the rooms involved in the study averaged 59.8 dB to 89 dB. The acceptable noise level for industry workers, according to OSHA, is 85 dB.
- Workplace issues. Teachers are in a precarious position when it comes to protecting their ears. Unlike construction workers, they cannot opt for earplugs in a noisy work environment—and small children may not easily adhere to volume standards.
- Tinnitus. While 65 percent of teachers suffered some kind of auditory complaint, one-third reported tinnitus and vertigo symptoms in addition to hearing loss.
- Long workdays. Children are also exposed to loud noise levels in the classroom, but they are given more breaks (such as lunch hours, study breaks, and recess) than teachers receive in the course of the day. A crowded classroom can generate significant noise levels, and many teachers work for six to ten hours while exposed to non-stop classroom noise.
Is Your Hearing at Risk? We Can Help You Find Out
If you have noticed a drop in your hearing ability, we can perform a full audiometric evaluation to prevent your hearing loss from progressing. To make an appointment for a hearing test today, call our toll-free number, 888-262-2613, to visit the Sound Advice Hearing Aid Center nearest you.