Teachers have a lot to deal with, from lesson planning and grading to budget cuts and overcrowded classrooms. Another thing they have to contend with is loud noise that can lead to occupational hearing loss. Below we review how the classroom can damage the ears and how teachers can reduce their risk of hearing loss.
How Loud Is Too Loud?
The loudness of sounds is measured in decibels (dB). Any sound over 85 dB can cause permanent damage to your hearing system with enough exposure. For reference, a normal conversation occurs around 60 to 70 dB, and 85 dB is closer to the volume of highway traffic during rush hour.
Classrooms in Hillsborough County Schools can easily exceed 85 dB. This is corroborated by a frequently cited study, which found that 94% of surveyed teachers found their classroom to be too loud, and 65% reported hearing issues such as tinnitus.
How Teachers Can Protect Their Hearing
Below are some tips teachers can employ to help protect their hearing.
Address the Acoustics
Most classrooms are filled with hard surfaces such as tile floors, bare walls and big windows, contributing to excessive reverberance and amps up the noise level. You can address this by adding absorbent surfaces such as rugs, curtains, corkboards and felt art projects.
Wear Musician’s Plugs
This tip is especially meant for band and orchestra teachers, but can apply to any teacher of any subject. Musician’s plugs allow safe sounds through normally, like your kids’ questions, while dampening excessively loud sounds, without sacrificing sound quality.
Speak with Seasoned Teachers
If you’re a newer teacher, try consulting with a seasoned teacher to see what tips they may have for addressing noise levels. Teachers are incredibly resourceful, and you never know what tricks someone may have up their sleeve.
Get Your Hearing Tested
Though your primary care physician may briefly screen you for hearing loss during your annual physical, scheduling a comprehensive hearing exam with an audiologist is also important. Even if you’re young or don’t suspect hearing loss yet, it’s important to have a baseline to compare future hearing tests to so your audiologist can monitor changes to your hearing as you progress in your career.
For more information or to schedule an appointment for a hearing test, call Kampsen Hearing today.