What do you want to be when you grow up?
This question is often asked to young adults at nauseam, and the majority of us don’t know the answer until much later in life. If you’re heading into your final years of high school or are finding your way in college, we’re willing to bet you’ve given this question some thought but that you haven’t taken your ears into account during the process.
It’s hard enough trying to decide which professional path to pursue, never mind that you need to consider the long-term health of one of your five senses. That’s why we’re here to demystify the job market for you.
Given our interest in all things ears, you can bet we’ve done a bit of research to discover which professions are more prone to affecting your hearing health, and in no particular order, here they are.
6 Industries That Cause Hearing Loss
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), occupational hearing loss is the most common work-related injury in the United States. So take note, and if you pursue a career in one of the sectors below, include hearing protection in your day-to-day activities!
1. Emergency Response
Saving lives is a noble career path. While driving to an emergency call, sirens play an important role for emergency service vehicles, but if you’re exposed to sirens on a regular basis, you may be at risk of suffering from permanent hearing loss. In a 14-year study, siren noise at a decibel level of 102.5 caused paramedics and EMTs to lose hearing at a rate faster than their peers.
If spending time in nature is your calling, beware of the risks while you’re strapped to a tree in the middle of a forest. Chainsaws reach 105 decibels, and although lumberjacks are required to wear hearing protection, the long-term affects can be dangerous to your hearing health.
Ah, the life of a musician. If waking up in a different city every day, touring the country (and maybe even the world!), meeting fans, and writing music is your cup of tea, be sure to wear protection. All the time. German researchers combed through the health insurance records of 7 million people from 2004 to 2008 and found that working musicians topped the charts for hearing loss!
If you can think of nothing better than working with planes for the duration of your career, consider yourself warned. At the end of your career, you could amass nearly 30,000 flight hours.
When converted into years, it’s almost four years of permanent exposure to elevated noise levels.” And it’s not just pilots who are affected, but baggage handlers, mechanics, and air traffic controllers are at risk, too.
According to the Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety & Health (whew, that’s a long name!), hearing loss is the second most reported occupational illness for American construction workers after musculoskeletal disorders. Hard hats and safety glasses are common forms of protection, but earplugs don’t enjoy the same prevalence. Want to build something? Start a trend, and protect your ears on the job!
Hearing loss is a silent epidemic among U.S. troops. The Department of Veteran’s Affairs reports that hearing damage is the number one disability since September 11th. And the numbers are staggering. Nearly 70,000 of the more than 1.3 million troops who have served since 2001 are collecting disability for tinnitus, and more than 58,000 are on disability for hearing loss. (If you haven’t seen them, check out our film series on veterans with hearing loss.)
What’s a musician/pilot/construction worker to do?
If you’re passionate about one of these careers, don’t let the risk of hearing loss stop you from pursuing it. But knowledge is power, so be sure to protect your hearing now so you don’t lose it later!