Your Hearing and Your Job

There are many things to consider when choosing a career. Maybe your long-term hearing health is one to add to the list.

There’s no way around the fact that jobs in factories and construction sites, or fields like agriculture, aviation, mining, or the military come with a higher risk of hearing loss. Heavy machinery creates a constant, high-decibel rumble that can damage the ears.

And if the career phase of your life is over and you worked that kind of job, then you should be especially attuned to any hearing loss that may manifest itself.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that “occupational hearing loss is one of the most common work-related illnesses in the United States.” Over 22 million workers in the United States are exposed to dangerous levels of noise at their worksite.

The damage done is cumulative and does not become clear until later in life.

The classic “macho” jobsites are not the only places where this kind of work-related harm can happen. Bartenders and waitstaff in nightclubs or loud restaurants are at risk, as are workers in live entertainment—including musicians. If the workplace is loud, the risk is there.

Another employment risk is from ototoxic chemicals (OHL), a wide range of solvents, asphyxiants, nitriles, pharmaceuticals, and metals and compounds that have been shown to make ears more susceptible to damage.

Known as Occupational Hearing Loss (OHL), it’s estimated that 24 percent of the hearing issues Americans suffer—which comprises 12 percent of the overall population—is work-related. And the longer someone works in a hazardous environment the more likely hearing loss will happen.

It’s clear that always using hearing protection is the best course of action when working in the kinds of jobs that can damage hearing. And if it’s too late to take preventive measures, then make regular hearing checkups part of your medical routine.