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"Hearing loss, common in farming, can be prevented"

Natural hearing loss comes with age, but exposure to a loud environment — common in agriculture — can cause noise-induced hearing loss, said a pair of Kansas State University safety experts.
Loud machinery, equipment, and even animals can play a role in hearing loss related to farming and ranching, Brad Dirks, associate director of the K-State physician assistance program, said in a news release.

"Exposure hearing loss can be from a one-time experience like a loud concert or using a circular saw without protection," Dirks said. "Cumulative (hearing loss) can happen over time, like working 40-50 years around machinery that push you above the decibel cutoff of 80-85."

"How close you are to the noise and how long you're exposed is very important," Dirks said. He recommends using foam plugs in ears or ear muffs as a preventative measure.
"If you really want to protect your ears, do both. Use the foam earplugs and then put the headphones or the earmuffs over and it becomes much more protective in those environments," he said.
Ear plugs are convenient to keep in pockets, and many headphones can be carried around the neck until needed.

"Producers, parents, or managers need to think about providing everyone that's working with them and working on the farm or ranch to have something that can protect their ears," Larson said. "Hearing loss is preventable," Larson said. "You can turn it down, walk away, or you can wear hearing protection. Protection is pretty easy to find at any hardware store."

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