Farming and Noise Induced Hearing Loss


Most people associate hearing loss with head trauma, aging or genetic disorders, but overexposure to loud noise is one of the most common causes of hearing loss. While some is reversible, sensorineural hearing loss is permanent and occurs when the delicate hair cells or auditory nerve in the inner ear are damaged. Certain occupations have environments and equipment that repeatedly expose workers to hazardous sound levels causing sensorineural hearing loss.  Some of the top occupations where hearing loss is a common occurrence are mining, construction, and manufacturing, but did you know that farming makes the list as well?

Studies show that one-third of farmers have some level of hearing loss. Any sound louder than 85dB is harmful to people’s ears. Farm equipment like tractors, combines, and even hand drills are louder than 85dB and can be harmful to your hearing health if you do not use ear protection. While people may not feel the effects from loud noise exposure immediately, studies have shown that 36% of farmers exposed to occupational noise levels above 90dB struggled with noise induced hearing loss by the age of 50.

Below is a table showing some of the sounds farmers are regularly exposed to and how long people can be around before it starts to damage the inner ear:

Unlike glasses that make your vision sharper, hearing aids only amplify sound, they do not clarify noise. The hair cells in the cochlea clarify sound, but loud noise causes them to die. When this happens, it’s irreversible, which makes protecting your hearing vital today. The CDC recommends the following to protect hearing on the job:

  • Identify noisy tasks and use hearing protection
  • Make hearing protection convenient: Keep ear plugs in your pocket and keep canal caps or ear muffs on or near any noisy equipment.
  • Reduce equipment noise by regularly servicing and replacing worn, loose or unbalanced parts.
  • Limit your exposure to loud noise as much as possible.
  • Have your hearing tested (visit to schedule an appointment)

Prolonged and repeated exposure to hazardous sound (>85 dB) can lead to gradual permanent hearing loss. Take steps today to protect your hearing, because once hearing is gone, it’s gone for good.

At Hough Ear Institute we are on a mission to cure deafness and reverse sensorineural hearing loss.
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