How to keep your ears safe this spring

colorful spring flowers

How to keep your ears safe this spring

There's nothing like the official seasonal transition from winter to spring. Gone are the days of cold, bitter temperatures, harsh weather conditions and cabin fever. Now you can open your windows, enjoy the fresh air and start tending that garden, among many other fun springtime activities. But with all of these positive, refreshing changes come a new need to be more cautious outdoors, as many of the chores and hobbies you've been looking forward to could be harmful to your hearing.

Did you know that changes in barometric pressure, allergies, indoor spring cleaning and even outdoor home improvements can all impact your hearing? That's why it's so important to proceed with caution as the new season emerges.

Here are a few springtime scenarios that could damage your hearing, plus ways to protect your ears to avoid hearing loss:

Changes in barometric pressure
According to Dr. Ana Anzola, principal of Ascent Audiology & Hearing of Washington, D.C., the rapid fluctuation of barometric pressure during spring has an impact on your hearing when you spend time outdoors.

"When it [barometric pressure] drops, the pressure outside your ear goes down faster than the pressure inside your ear," she wrote for Angie's List. "This pressure imbalance can cause a feeling of fullness or popping, which is uncomfortable and can affect your ability to hear properly."

If you notice these pressure changes in your ears every time you go outside, visit an audiologist.

Emerging allergic reactions
If there's one negative aspect of springtime, many would agree that it's the rise of allergies. The warmer, wet weather that emerges during the springtime causes trees to produce excess pollen, which can cause people to release histamine, a compound that results in an increase in mucus production. When this happens, it can cause the inner ear to clog with fluid and wax, increasing pressure. Allergic reactions to pollen can also cause the Eustachian tubes to swell. Both of these scenarios can negatively impact hearing. To avoid these issues, consider taking allergy medication this spring.

Making outdoor home improvements
When the weather finally gets nice, many people have a sudden urge to take care of outdoor chores and make home improvements. The problem with this, however, is those common appliances and machinery you use outside can be so loud that they cause damage to hearing. According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Health and Safety Administration, exposing yourself to noises at 85 decibels and higher for longer than eight hours every day can cause permanent hearing damage later in life. Here are the decibel level measurements of commonly used outdoor equipment, according to HealthyHearing.com:

  • Lawn mower: 88 to 94 decibels
  • Leaf blower: 95 to 105 decibels
  • Weed whacker: 94 to 96 decibels
  • Tractor: 95 to 105 decibels
  • Drill: 92 to 95 decibels
  • Jack hammer: 112 decibels

To avoid damaging your hearing while working with these tools, use protective ear plugs and take frequent breaks throughout the day.

Spring cleaning
Nothing welcomes spring with open arms quite like a day dedicated to cleaning. But much like taking care of those outdoor home improvements can impact your hearing, indoor appliances used while doing chores can also reach high frequencies. While they certainly don't reach the same decibel level as outdoor tools, here are some of the levels that your common indoor appliances can amount to:

  • Washing machine: 75 decibels
  • Smoke detector: 75 to 85 decibels
  • Vacuum: 84-89 decibels
  • Handheld mixer: 65 decibels

Prolonged exposure to high decibels is what causes damage to hearing, so just be mindful of how much time you spend spring cleaning while using these tools.

Attending a sporting event or concert
The first spring cleaning venture is often what completes the seasonal transition for most. For others, it's the first outdoor sporting event or concert of the year. While entertaining, both of these events can pose a threat to your hearing if you don't take caution. Crowds attending an arena sporting event can produce noise levels at 115 decibels or more. Concerts can reach 100 or more decibels, and when frequented for various hours, can cause temporary to permanent hearing loss over time. You may consider wearing protective, well-fitting earplugs to the next sporting event or concert on your agenda to avoid damaging your ears.

Riding a motorcycle
Taking on the wide, open road on a beautiful spring day can be thrilling, but it can also impact your hearing ability. Revving the engine can amount to 100 decibels, while a leisurely ride can produce 85 decibels and more. Ear plugs are recommended while taking that joy ride.

Much like taking precautionary measures during the springtime is important, it's critical to be mindful of your hearing year long. For more general information on how hearing works, hearing loss and hearing aids, contact AccuQuest today.

Here are a few springtime scenarios that could damage your hearing, plus ways to protect your ears to avoid hearing loss.