Author Topic: My hearing protection has been working (well all these years)  (Read 846 times)

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Offline ChuckS

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I went for my second hearing test in years (at the urging of my wife). After removing lots of earwax from my ears, the ENT specialist sent me to the next room for an audiology exam. He found my test result perfectly normal for my age. The doc expertly told me that women's voices fall into the high pitch range, and I could tell my wife that I wasn't doing selective listening! [tongue]

I did my first hearing test in my 50s (yes, also at my wife's encouragement), and I, too, passed well on that test. The recent test result confirmed that my hearing protection has always been effective for me. This is what I do to protect my ears:

When using the thickness planer: I go for double protection - earmuffs AND custom kit (https://www.leevalley.com/en-ca/shop/tools/apparel-and-safety-gear/hearing-protection/76327-custom-ear-plug-kit?item=22R7270&utm_source=free_google_shopping&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=shopping_feed&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIzN-l_7-w-wIVFw6tBh2CbQMEEAQYBCABEgIJK_D_BwE)

All machines used with dust collection/dust extraction: NRR 31 (https://www.leevalley.com/en-ca/shop/tools/apparel-and-safety-gear/hearing-protection/53610-sensgard-nrr-31-hearing-protectors?item=22R0802&utm_source=free_google_shopping&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=shopping_feed&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIzN-l_7-w-wIVFw6tBh2CbQMEEAQYAiABEgKvmfD_BwE) or NRR 25, if for a short period of time (https://www.3mcanada.ca/3M/en_CA/worker-health-safety-ca/hearing-protection/earplugs/)

All other light machines or tools used without dust extraction: NRR25 ear plugs.

However, because of earwax concerns, I think I'll explore finding something to replace the NNR25 ear plugs -- I have a dozen of them, placed all over the shop (I don't like earmuffs). I will use the custom kit (ear plugs) only for thickness planing, which I only do 3 to 4 times a year.

P.S. Normal waiting times for hearing tests here are 3 to 6 months; someone cancelled their appointment, so I waited only a week. It's always worth asking for your name to be put on the cancellation call list no matter what your diagnostic or specialist appointment is. That list can cut your waiting times by months. Calling the appointment office (politely!) about cancellations has never failed my family.)
« Last Edit: November 15, 2022, 10:45 AM by ChuckS »

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Offline Adamsse

  • Posts: 35
Re: My hearing protection has been working (well all these years)
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2022, 11:09 AM »
I went for my second hearing test in years (at the urging of my wife). After removing lots of earwax from my ears, the ENT specialist sent me to the next room for an audiology exam.


Chuck, thanks for sharing your story on this and encouraging us to protect our hearing and get tested.  I want to raise awareness about a related topic for woodworker veterans and family/friends of veterans.

I can’t speak to the Canadian version of the US Veterans Administration (VA), but I wanted to share that US veterans can get hearing tests and hearing aids FOR FREE through the VA.  You do NOT need to have a disability compensation rating for hearing loss.  But you do need to be registered with the VA.  I have in-ear rechargeable hearing aids from them.  Saved me $6-8K that I could use to spend on woodworking tools! Here are two YouTube videos that can be shared for more info.




Offline ChuckS

  • Posts: 4260
Re: My hearing protection has been working (well all these years)
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2022, 12:39 PM »
Protecting our ears can mean a good social life when we're in our golden years. I have had a friend who no longer socialize with us because he can't hear anything at all. In earlier years, he relied on his wife whom he could hear better from (accent?) to talk with us in a group setting or over the phone. But there're other serious risks that come with hearing loss: https://www.washingtonpost.com/wellness/2022/10/20/hearing-loss-dementia-hearing-aids/

Countess woodworkers seen on social media (including some Festool footage) or demonstrators in woodworking trade shows seem to wear no hearing protection. It is an occupational hazard that sooner or later will bite them without warning.

On a related note, of the 4 other patients in the waiting area while I was there, all of them were in their early 40s. I wouldn't have thought that people in that age group would normally need a hearing test.

« Last Edit: November 15, 2022, 12:41 PM by ChuckS »

Offline squall_line

  • Posts: 1720
Re: My hearing protection has been working (well all these years)
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2022, 12:57 PM »
I have mild tinnitus from riding a motorcycle without hearing protection (but with a full face helmet) for too many years, starting at age 23.

The first time I really noticed it was when I stopped at a rest stop and everything in a quiet-ish room was fluttering in and out.  I ignored the warning signs for probably ten more years after that.

The only time I've taken a hearing test in my adulthood was for a CDL.  It was a completely non-scientific "whisper" test that I'm pretty sure was administered with at least one thumb hovering over or touching the scales...

Offline woodbutcherbower

  • Posts: 606
Re: My hearing protection has been working (well all these years)
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2022, 01:10 PM »
@ChuckS Great to hear (sorry for the pun - it was 100% intended)  [big grin]

My hearing's around 6dB down centred at 4k in both ears - caused by years of wielding a Gibson Les Paul through a wall of Marshall amplifiers in my younger and (even more) stupid days. So I look after myself a little better now, and have a set of jet engine-grade ear defenders which I wear every time I'm using certain tools - especially the OF2200. My hearing hasn't deteriorated any further for the last 5 years, so they're doing their job.

Don't forget about eye protection either  .........

Kevin

Offline Sparktrician

  • Posts: 4342
Re: My hearing protection has been working (well all these years)
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2022, 01:23 PM »
I've been using Howard Leight earplugs (33 dB-rated) when using power tools, including the lawn mower, leaf blower and string trimmer, and when shooting shotguns.  Rifles, pistols, the planer and routers get muffs added due to bone-conducted sound.  I'm 100% deaf in one ear for reasons unrelated to my love of woodworking and shooting, but I still have to protect that eardrum.   [smile]
- Willy -

  "Show us a man who never makes a mistake and we will show a man who never makes anything. 
  The capacity for occasional blundering is inseparable from the capacity to bring things to pass."

 - Herman Lincoln Wayland (1830-1898)

Offline ChuckS

  • Posts: 4260
Re: My hearing protection has been working (well all these years)
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2022, 01:31 PM »
Snip.
Don't forget about eye protection either  .........

Kevin
Hear, hear! (Norm Abram once won an award for promoting eye safety in his New Yankee Workshop.)

I have a pair of prescription PPE glasses, and I also have over-the-glasses safety glasses. Dust protection is my main concern, so I have 1 dust collector, 1 CT 15, 4 shop vacs and two air filtration setups in my garage/shop. All except the air filtration have auto-switch features, but I still feel not enough. My dad died of chronic lung-related issues, and seeing how he suffered from breathing difficulties made me realize lungs are so vulnerable.

I should add that most social media folks of all ages use no masks (because they can't talk) in their woodworking videos, even though fine dust can be clearly seen flying around.

« Last Edit: November 15, 2022, 01:53 PM by ChuckS »

Offline 4nthony

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Re: My hearing protection has been working (well all these years)
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2022, 02:54 PM »
Curious if anyone is using ISOTunes ear buds when working in the shop? I've been using a pair of Apple AirPods Pro with noise cancellation turned on and they seem to filter out quite a bit of noise, but the more I read, the more I'm finding that they aren't really suited for loud environments.

I see a lot of videos with people wearing ISOTunes but, as with most things, I'm not sure if they've just been gifted to the creator or if they actually work and that's why so many people wear them.

I have a hard time wearing my 3M ear muffs without music. I feel like there's too much muffled noise with them and it almost feels like my ears are clogged or I'm on a plane, if that makes sense.

Thoughts on the ISOTunes? Thanks!
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Anthony

"The best way to get a correct answer on the internet is to post an obviously wrong answer and wait for someone to correct you." - Kevin Kelly


Offline Packard

  • Posts: 1904
Re: My hearing protection has been working (well all these years)
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2022, 03:44 PM »
My last set of hearing aids cost $6,000.00 each ($12,000.00 total).  Of that my insurance paid $10,000.00.  And like all the previous hearing aids I have tried, these not only did not work, but made my hearing worse.

Luckily, New York State law gives you 90 days to return the hearing aids if they are not helpful, so all but $75.00 (the cost of the mold) was refunded to me when I returned them.

I don’t know if that law will apply now that a prescription is no longer required. 

As mentioned earlier, typical hear loss from aging, loses the high pitches.  My hearing loss, which is nerve transmission, is hereditary or more typically due to a brain tumor.  (No tumor for me, though the MRI was a unpleasant experience.)

My hearing loss is known as “reverse slope” hearing loss.  I continue to hear higher pitches, but the lower pitches (with gaps) are lost. 

After my most recent (and most promising) hearing aids, I read that there are fewer than a dozen people in the USA will be diagnosed with true reverse slope hearing loss.  Of those twelve, anywhere from six of them to all of them will be dead within a year or less. 

Having read that, I have given up entirely on hearing aids.  The market for reverse slope specific hearing aids is too small for manufacturers to cater to.

In the 1980s they came out with the first digital hearing aids that could be amplified by frequency bands (just three).  But they had an automatic system that used algorithms to adjust the hearing aids.  These were adjusted for normal slope hearing and were the worst that I had tried.

In around 1999 I got a pair that were adjustable in 10 bands.  That was the best effort, but the hearing tests showed that I heard better without the hearing aids than with them.

Around then, I took a 10 week course from Long Island Jewish Hospital for lip reading.  The teacher told me that I was the best student he had ever had, but I probably will not do much lip reading until my hearing got worse.  (Lip reading requires concentration and is very much like work.)

A very strange thing about lip reading is that the brain “reads” the lip information as sound.  So it is impossible to tell how much of what I “heard” was sound and how much was lip reading.  I assumed it was about 20-25% lip reading, and the rest is listening. 

It was not until the pandemic that I learned otherwise.  I am reading about 75% or more and hearing the rest.  With the pandemic, people were wearing masks.  With the mask on, I could understand 0% of the conversation. 

Strangely, my sister had fabulous hearing.  When my German Shepherd would howl over some distant and inaudible siren, my sister would howl along with him.  Note:  That is a hyperbole.  When the dog howled and everyone asked, “What’s he howling about?”  She would reply, “Don’t you hear the siren.”  In a room full of people, only she and my dog would hear the sound.

It was not until the pandemi

Offline 4nthony

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Re: My hearing protection has been working (well all these years)
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2022, 03:52 PM »
noise cancellation is not hearing protection

Yeah, which is why I'm curious about the ISOTunes. I like listening to podcasts and music while working in the garage.

https://isotunes.com/collections/hearing-protection

The ISOTunes don't use noise cancellation but rather rely on silicone tips to prevent sound from entering the ear. The AirPod Pro also have silicone tips to prevent sound from entering but they also has noise cancellation. From what I can tell, the main issue with the AirPod Pro is that they do not limit audio to 85 db and as such, Apple doesn't rate them for hearing protection.

Per this article:

"Using AirPods in a loud environment will make the audio coming through the inbuilt speakers harder to hear. The temptation is to then crank up the volume of the AirPods to compensate for the loud background sounds, which will be detrimental to your hearing rather than being protective."

The ISOTunes have 25 db NRR while the AirPod Pro has 23 db NRR (not including the perceived reduction from NC).

Anyway, I know some people have used AirPod Pros in the shop and I'm curious if anyone has upgraded from the AirPod Pro to the ISOTunes (they have several versions of earbuds) and what your thoughts are.

Thanks!
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Anthony

"The best way to get a correct answer on the internet is to post an obviously wrong answer and wait for someone to correct you." - Kevin Kelly

Offline ChuckS

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Re: My hearing protection has been working (well all these years)
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2022, 03:52 PM »
$12,000 US?!!!  [scared]

It varies among provinces, but by and large, we're talking about a max. of $500CAN gov't subsidy for seniors who need hearing aids (something like once every three years).

Offline Packard

  • Posts: 1904
Re: My hearing protection has been working (well all these years)
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2022, 04:12 PM »
That is $6,000 per ear.  The basic units were $5,000.00 but I opted for the more expensive one to give it the best possible chance at success.  But no more tries after that.  Audiologists had a lock on that market and it allowed them to keep the prices elevated.  I expect that the cost of hearing aids will drop significantly now that no prescription is required.  I do wonder how they will take the molds from the ear for the fitting.  I would not want to stuff something in my ear for that purpose.  It is not complicated, but it is worrisome if something goes wrong.