When you think of occupational hearing loss, you may think of professions such as construction workers, police force and military personnel. But did you know that teachers are at risk of noise-induced hearing loss, as well? Below we review how loud sounds cause damage, the facts about classroom noise levels as well as tips for preventing hearing loss for teachers.
How Loud Sounds Cause Damage
Inside the inner ears are tiny, delicate hair cells called stereocilia. These hair cells are responsible for converting incoming soundwaves into electrical energy that travels to the brain via the auditory nerve. There, it is interpreted as sound.
When dangerously loud sounds pass through the ears, it can damage or destroy the stereocilia. Once damaged, the cells do not regenerate; permanent sensorineural hearing loss is the result.
The Facts About Classroom Noise Levels
Below are some facts about classroom noise levels:
- According to one study, 94% of surveyed teachers reported their classrooms were uncomfortably loud.
- The same study also indicated that 65% of teachers reported hearing problems, including tinnitus.
- Classroom noise levels can easily exceed 85 dB – the threshold that is considered safe for a work day.
Tips for Preventing Hearing Loss for Teachers
Here are some tips for preventing occupational hearing loss that teachers can employ.
Address the Acoustics
One of the reasons classrooms are so noisy is because of the excessive reverberance off all the hard surfaces, like the tile floors, large windows, blank walls and many desks. You can suppress some of this reverberance by adding absorbent surfaces like curtains, tablecloths, rugs, cork boards and felt art projects.
Wear Musician’s Earplugs
Musician’s earplugs aren’t just for band and orchestra teachers; they can be used by teachers of any grade level and subject. They’re unique because they let safe sounds through naturally while dampening unsafe sounds. They accomplish this all without sacrificing sound quality.
Talk to Other Teachers
Other teachers in Boise schools who have a lot of experience are great resources for tips on lowering sound levels. They may make suggestions about everything from addressing acoustics to better classroom management. You never know what tricks a teacher has up their sleeves.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Southwest Idaho ENT today.