London: Seven out of 10 female preschool teachers suffer from hearing problems, finds a study that linked the profession with a higher risk than others’ exposed to noise.
It is because the preschool teachers are regularly exposed to voices and screams that often convey important information and is difficult to avoid, unlike in an industrial environment, as they have to listen to the children.
“Preschool teachers have a much higher risk than those who work in environments with a similar noise rating. The symptoms can be triggered by the boisterous environment, and it’s also difficult to use hearing protection,” Sofie Fredriksson from Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden said in a statement.
“We have an occupational group with much higher risk for these symptoms, and if nothing is done about it, it’s really alarming. We have to lower sound levels, have a calmer preschool,” Fredriksson explained.
The findings suggested that hearing loss and tinnitus — sensation of hearing sounds in ears — were the second most common symptoms affecting preschool teachers.
Among the group of 4,718 women who participated in the study, while 71 per cent experienced sound-induced auditory fatigue making them unable to listen to the radio, 46 per cent had trouble understanding speech.
Similarly, 39 per cent said that they experienced discomfort or physical pain in their ears from everyday sounds that are not necessarily loud at all, at least once a week.
“Hearing protection devices are normally the main intervention if the sound level cannot be reduced in another way, and it may be necessary if you have a child who subjects your ears to crying for a whole day during their introductory period at preschool,” Fredriksson suggested.
“But the design of the premises and room acoustics also have to be considered. In a large room with solid walls, it becomes noisy no matter how educational and strategic you are in your work,” she added.