CAN BACON AND CABBAGE CAUSE HEARING LOSS?
It can’t — not exactly. But if you are a farmer and raise pigs, you are at risk for hearing loss. Farming is hard work and can result in any number of physical ailments. Perhaps the most significant is hearing loss, due to prolonged exposure to noise from farm equipment … and even from the squeals of pigs.
Research by the National Farm Medicine Center’s Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation in Wisconsin, USA, suggests that working on a farm or being around everyday farm noises can result in hearing loss. Noise above 85 decibels (dB) can cause permanent damage. That level is roughly equivalent to the sound of a combine. According to the National Ag Safety Database, a pig’s squeals are at 130 dB — a level that causes pain. When you’re exposed to the high-sound levels of tractors, chain saws, grain dryers, guns and squealing pigs, you will likely suffer from noise-induced hearing loss.
You may be surprised to learn that hearing loss is not restricted to lifelong farmers. Nearly 70 percent of teenagers who live and/or work on a farm show signs of noise-induced hearing loss. This refers to the ability to hear sounds at high frequencies, and those sounds are the first to reflect hearing trouble.
Although hearing loss is permanent, you can protect your hearing and prevent problems down the road (or in the fields). There are several things you can do. The best remedy is to keep noisy farm equipment as far away as can be. If that is not possible, you can do the following to reduce your chance of hearing loss:
- Identify jobs that may harm your hearing or with sounds that bother you and limit your exposure to sounds above 85dB
- Properly maintain your equipment by regularly lubricating and replacing parts to reduce friction and lower noise levels
- Operate larger engines at lower speeds
- Install vibration isolation pads under the legs of noisy equipment
- Purchase tractors and skid-steers with sound-reducing cabs and tightly fitted doors and windows
- Practice workstation rotation to limit the length works are exposed to noise
- Use Hearing Protection Devices (HPDs), such as ear plugs, ear muffs and earphones; ask your local farm supply dealer to stock them
- Wear hearing protection if you must raise your voice to be heard from a metre away
- Keep several ear protectors near loud farm equipment so that they’re always available
- Keep children away from noisy equipment
- Get a hearing test if you think you may be experiencing hearing loss
Hidden Hearing are available to help those who already have hearing loss improve the quality of their life and also assist with hearing protection for those exposed to loud noises, such as the ones present on a farm. We can test your hearing, customize protective devices or fit you with a hearing aid.
The aroma of bacon cooking is comforting … so is hearing it sizzle in the pan. Don’t miss out; protect your hearing. Freephone Hidden Hearing at 1800 818 808 to schedule a hearing test or to be fitted with a protective hearing device.