What would it be like not to be able to hear the sounds of birds serenading you when you wake up in the morning? Hearing is one sense that many take for granted until it’s lost. For most people, hearing loss is a gradual process that occurs from exposure to loud noises over a period of many years. Rock concerts, working around heavy machinery, living in a noisy city, and operating loud equipment can all cause gradual hearing loss over a sustained period of time. The risk of hearing loss is also increased in certain groups of people including smokers and diabetics. Interestingly, a new study shows that people who drive convertibles are at higher risk of hearing loss.
According to research presented at the American College of Otolaryngology driving around in a convertible expose driver and passengers to enough ambient noise to increase the risk of hearing loss ‘” particularly when the cars are driven at high speeds. The government has set the upper safe limit for noise exposure at 85 decibels or less. By testing a variety of convertibles, they found that most slightly exceeded these safe noise limits – which could spell trouble for the ears. The risk of hearing loss is even higher when the cars are driven fast and when large amounts of time are spent on the road. Interestingly, they discovered that the noise level could be reduced to safer levels by keeping the windows up when the top was down.
Men seem to be at a higher risk of hearing loss than women. Not only are they more likely to drive a convertible than a women, but they’re exposed to more ambient noise from operating equipment such as lawn mowers or heavy machinery at work and are more likely to shoot guns ‘” another source of noise that can damage the ears. These activities gradually take their toll not only be decreasing hearing, but can also lead to ringing and other sounds in the ear ‘” a condition known as tinnitus. This can be a frustrating and very difficult condition to treat and can be the cause of missed nights of sleep and depression in those who have a severe case. It’s estimated that over ninety percent of people with tinnitus have some degree of hearing loss.
The bottom line? It’s important to protect your ears against the risk of hearing loss. Stay away from rock concerts, heavy machinery, and don’t spend your free time shooting guns or hunting. And if you must drive a convertible – at least keep the windows up.