You may not know it, but the State of Illinois has a proud tradition of looking after those who are hard of hearing. After all, it was Prairie State native Abraham Lincoln who signed off on the creation of Gallaudet University – the first institution for deaf, dumb and blind people. But even in today’s Illinois, millions of people are at risk of losing their hearing.
Some of the most at risk are subject to constant high noise levels in their place of work. For instance, there are over 500 large factories in the state, and almost all of them contain noisy, hazardous machinery. And the farmers of the Prairie State are also at risk, thanks to harvesting equipment and vehicles, while the same applies to haulage professionals and construction workers too. In a busy, prosperous state, hearing loss is a major issue, and it can seriously impact upon your working life, so it makes sense to get things sorted out as soon as possible. But work isn’t the only way people can be exposed to noise in Illinois. Sports crowds can generate huge amounts of noise (well above the 80db associated with hearing loss risk), so regular attendees of Soldier Field or the United Center could well be damaging their hearing by watching their heroes over a period of years.
Driving is a constant source of noise (as are traffic sounds from the state’s numerous highways), while Illinois natives love to hunt and shoot as well. Studies have found that regular hunters have a much higher hearing loss risk, with the risk increasing by 7 percent for every 5 years of hunting. And in a leisure activity where keen hearing makes a real difference, that can be a major problem.