Driving a convertible is risk for hearing loss

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
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New research shows that riding in your car with the top down is a set-up for noise induced hearing loss. The findings, presented at the 2009 American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) Annual Meeting & OTO EXPO, in San Diego, CA. shows that driver of convertibles can cause permanent hearing loss due to high levels of noise exposure.

Scientists measured decibel exposure for the study. Permanent hearing loss can occur above 85 decibels (Db). Drivers of convertibles were found to be consistently exposed to between 88 and 90 Db, with a high of 99 Db. Noise can cause a variety of health problems, including elevated blood pressure, poor sleep, digestive problems, and can even change the way your heart beats.

The researchers study driving a convertible at speeds of 50, 60, and 70 miles per hour to find the risk of noise induced hearing loss among drivers.

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The authors suggest using ear protection when riding in a convertible to reduce risk of permanent hearing loss. More than 28 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss, and one third is at least partly due to exposure to noise.

Consider the long term benefits of wearing ear plugs anytime you expect to be exposed to loud noises to protect your hearing. You should also know how listening to MP3 music can lead to hearing loss. Take caution to protect your ears from permanent damage at concerts, when riding in a convertible, driving a motorcycle, mowing the lawn, attending firework displays, riding in boats, at work, and even when working on personal projects that require the use of noisy saws and other tools.

Noise induced hearing loss is a real problem that should not be ignored. Loss of hearing has physical impacts on health, including quality of life. The new study showing that driving a convertible is another contributor to noise induced hearing loss adds to the list of environmental noise that can negatively impact human health.

Reference: American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery

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