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How Loud is Too Loud? Part Three: The Long-Term Effects of Hearing Loss

Key Points

• Long term effects of hearing loss can include cognitive decline, increased risk of falls, depression/anxiety, and social isolation.
• Hearing loss, which is also common in older adults has been found to be associated with clinically significant cognitive decline as well as MCI.
• Those aged 50 and older with untreated hearing loss were found to be more likely to report anxiety, depression, and feelings of paranoia.

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How Loud is Too Loud? Part Two: Hearing in Noise on the Job

Key Points

• Hearing in a noisy work environment is not only difficult for those with hearing loss, but for individuals with normal hearing as well, because background noise can cover up the meaning or clarity of speech.
• The brain has two tasks when hearing in noise: separating speech from noise and filling in missed speech cues in words and phrases to create meaning. It uses things like memory and attention to help it along.
• Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) is the difference between the level of speech and the level of noise. We want the SNR of an environment to be as low as possible. Products like the ListenTALK and the Listen Everywhere system can help to reduce SNR.
• There are several things an employer can do to help reduce noise without employing a noise control engineer. These actions involve simple steps to decrease noise as well as ways to help employees avoid excessive noise.

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How Loud is Too Loud? Part One: How Loud Noise Affects the Ear and Hearing

Key Points

• Within the inner ear are small hair cells which transmit sound information to the brain. Loud sounds sent through the system can cause these hair cells become damaged and can even die.
• Hazardous noise is defined as that which exceeds 85 dB if an individual is exposed for an 8-hour day.
• Noise-induced hearing loss can present as a decrease in a person’s ability to hear sounds at different frequencies, or as a difficulty understanding in noise.
• If your employees complain about sounds being too loud, have difficulty understanding one another, or complain of diminished hearing at the end of the day, it is time to invest in some noise conservation measures.

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