Usage of hearing protective devices in farming : do they work?
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Studies have shown that farmers have a higher degree of high-frequency hearing loss than do individuals in nonfarming occupations. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the consistent use of hearing protective devices by farmers prevents high-frequency hearing loss, specifically at the frequencies of 3000, 4000, and 6000 Hertz. Farmers who reported frequent use of hearing protection (Group I) were matched with farmers who reported little or no usage of hearing protective devices during noise exposure (Group II). The subjects were matched by age and number of years in farming. The audiometric data for these subjects were statistically compared between groups, ears, and frequencies. Farmers in this study who utilized hearing protection demonstrated significantly better thresholds at 3000, 4000, and 6000 Hertz (Group I high-frequency pure-tone average = 25.53 dB HL; Group II high-frequency pure-tone average = 36.83 dB HL). These results indicate that the usage of hearing protection helps to significantly reduce the amount of noise-induced hearing loss found in farmers.