Take care of your hearing health while taking care of your lawn! When springtime rolls around for those of us living in the South, the people, wildlife, and plant life of the world around us start stirring to welcome the new season. This generally entails turning down the thermostat, getting out and about, and breaking out shorts and sunglasses. And, of course, it also means cranking up the lawn mower.

Ah yes, this period of rebirth brings the annual spring and summer ritual of lawn care. We don boots, gloves, and hats; we till gardens, plant flowers, and pull weeds. One of the most basic tasks in this series of chores is also the most dangerous to your hearing health — lawn mowing! It’s become such an integral part of our weekly routine during the growing seasons that we forget how great (and negative) an effect a lawn mower can have on hearing. The average volume of a lawnmower while in use is 95 dB, and according to the American Academy of Audiology, any sound louder than 85 dB is considered potentially hazardous. While this fact illustrates the potential danger lawn mowing can have on hearing, it does not reflect how damaging prolonged exposure to this excessively loud sound can be. In short, the longer you’re exposed to a loud noise, the more dangerous it becomes. So, sitting on that riding mower for 2 or 3 hours can do plenty of damage.

When exposed to loud, prolonged noise, tiny hair cells in the inner are damaged or destroyed, and can’t be repaired. As a consequence, your ability to understand speech sounds could be permanently altered — and not in positive way!

Luckily, your audiologist has a practical solution to keep your hearing intact while you keep your grass in check — custom earplugs. These custom made devices are made to fit your ear exactly, and they prevent damaging or prolonged noise from causing hearing loss. Custom noise protection plugs are made specifically for your ears’ particular shape, and they can reduce the discomfort and poor fit often associated with standard foam or rubber plugs. They are safer for long-term use than foam or rubber plugs, since they aren’t placed as deeply in the ear canal, and are gentler on your ears’ sensitive skin. People working in construction or industrial environments, musicians, or anyone exposed to loud noises are perfect candidates for custom ear plugs.

Talk to your audiologist today to find out how custom noise protection devices can be safe, comfortable, and affordable. They are a low-cost, long-term solution to combating excessive noise levels from yard equipment such as mowers, blowers, drills, saws, and the like. Be sure to tell your hearing healthcare professional exactly what type of noise you will be exposed to, and for how long. They can select devices that will provide all the protection you need, no matter how long you will be exposed to the noise.

Asking your teens to do yard work? Having younger children help you while mowers are in use? Be sure their hearing is adequately protected as well. As I drive through my neighborhood, I frequently see Dad mowing the yard on a riding mower, letting his toddler or young child sit on his lap — and neither one of them are using ear protection. This is an exceptionally dangerous thing for a child’s hearing, and it puts them at risk for noise induced hearing loss. Using effective noise protection will ensure that you and your family can spend less time worrying about hearing health and more time maintaining and enjoying your backyard oasis.

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