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    On the Palouse, agriculture is one of the top industries. Workers are at risk for hearing-related issues due to the heavy machinery activities this industry requires.  Dr. Anna Curet, Audiologist at Palouse ENT and Audiology, breaks down what hearing protection looks like, what options are available, and why hearing preservation is so important.

    Why Hearing Protection Is Important

    Loud noises may not have an immediate impact on one’s hearing. But, over time, the damage done to one’s hearing can be quite significant. “It's hugely important to protect our hearing when any loud noises are present. It's also really important for our long-term hearing health. The more noise we're exposed to, the worse our hearing will be, particularly when we also combine in the natural aging process of our hearing system,” states Dr. Curet. 

    She notes that a good rule of thumb is to always use hearing protection when operating any equipment or machinery. If you're not sure something is “too loud,” it is better to play it safe and use hearing protection. 

    Hearing Protection Options

    Many options exist when it comes to hearing protection. For example, there are simple, over-the-counter earplugs at most pharmacies. Over the ear “earmuff” type devices are also quite common. “If you know you're going to be around loud noises for extended periods of time, as are many individuals in agriculture, it’s smart to double up your hearing protection and wear both in the ear and over the ear options,” advised Dr. Curet. 

    Custom hearing protection is also available, which helps individuals hear the noises they need to hear but blocks out damaging sounds using specialized filters. An audiologist can help determine the right mix needed. This option is a bit more expensive, but they tend to have better long-term outcomes in protecting one’s hearing. “The nice thing about custom hearing protection is that they are very lightweight, and many people don't even notice they are in,” notes Dr. Curet.

    Be Proactive About Your Auditory Health

    If individuals don’t properly protect their hearing, it will likely lead to hearing loss. Unfortunately, hearing loss is irreversible. There are ways to enhance hearing, with devices like hearing aids, but one’s natural ability to hear cannot be restored once it is diminished. 

    In order to be proactive about one’s hearing health, Dr. Curet recommends visiting with an audiologist annually. “Just as we go to the dentist or the doctor every year for a checkup, we should also be going to our audiologist to have our hearing checked. Somebody who has not had their hearing tested before should do so. I highly encourage that. Even if you're not concerned about your hearing at this time, it is always good to establish a baseline of your hearing in case you do end up having hearing concerns.”


    Learn more about Audiology services available through Palouse ENT & Audiology and schedule your next visit today.

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